By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – If he handles Javier Fortuna the way he expects Saturday night in Brooklyn, Robert Easter Jr. would welcome a fight against another 130-pound champion considering moving up to lightweight.
Vasyl Lomachenko is just the kind of talented, high-profile opponent Easter seeks. As much as the unbeaten IBF lightweight champion respects Lomachenko’s skills and status as one of the best boxers in the sport, Easter doesn’t think Lomachenko would be equally eager to face him.
When asked if Lomachenko would avoid fighting him if the WBO super featherweight champion moves up to the 135-pound division, Easter said, “of course.” That could leave Easter, assuming he defeats Fortuna, to wait for lightweight title unification fights against WBC champ Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) and/or WBA champ Jorge Linares (43-3, 27 KOs).
“In this boxing game, people study fighters and try to find weaknesses,” Easter told BoxingScene.com. “They call the best shots for themselves. He probably will move up. I don’t know how soon, but he probably will move up and pick his opponents.”
The 5-feet-11 Easter (20-0, 14 KOs) is unusually tall for a lightweight and is five inches bigger than Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs). That’s among the reasons Easter thinks Lomachenko would pursue opponents other than him if Lomachenko moves up to lightweight.
“Lomachenko, he’s a short fighter, just like the rest of the guys I would fight,” Easter said. “And he’s coming from a lower weight class, so I don’t think he has the power [for lightweight]. He’s a smart fighter, though. He definitely does have the boxing IQ and the smarts in the ring.
“But against me, I don’t think nobody can beat me. He will have some success at 135 – don’t get me wrong. Like I said, he’s a smart fighter. It’s just that when it comes to me, I don’t believe nobody can beat me.”
The 26-year-old Easter, of Toledo, Ohio, will make his third defense of the IBF lightweight title against Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs), a former featherweight and super featherweight champion from the Dominican Republic. Showtime will air their fight as the opener of a doubleheader from Barclays Center.
The telecast, set to start at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, will feature IBF welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) and Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) in the main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.