Through two delays and an extra round of talks, emerges a prize fight.
Handlers for Javier Fortuna and Luke Campbell were able to come to terms for their World Boxing Council (WBC)-ordered vacant lightweight title fight, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman informed BoxingScene.com.
The deal was reached in time to avoid a purse bid hearing, which was scheduled to have taken place Tuesday afternoon at WBC headquarters in Mexico City.
“Eddie Hearn (Campbell’s promoter) and Sampson Boxing (Fortuna’s promoter) have confirmed that they have reached an agreement for the Luke Campbell vs. Javier Fortuna WBC lightweight championship,” said Sulaiman. “Therefore, the purse bid hearing has been canceled.”
It proved to be worth the extra 3 ½ weeks’ worth of extensions afforded the ordered title fight, which was ordered shortly after unbeaten Devin Haney (24-0, 15KOs) was forced to vacate as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.
Haney relinquished the title while negotiating his own title defense versus Dominican Republic’s Fortuna (35-2-1, 24KOs), who remained first in line for the belt. The series of events led to England’s Campbell (20-3, 16KOs)—a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and two-time title challenger—landing a third crack at the green belt, and which forced Hearn and Sampson Boxing’s Sampson Lewkowicz to come to an agreement.
For weeks, all they could definitively agree upon was that more time was needed to reach a deal that would meet the needs of all involved parties. It prompted a delay from the originally issued January 3 deadline, and also saw a previously ordered January 21 purse bid hearing delayed by a week as the two sides informed the sanctioning body that they were too close to the finish line to abandon talks.
The extra seven days served them well, although exact terms of the agreement were not made available to BoxingScene.com as this goes to publish.
Fortuna—a former featherweight and junior lightweight titlist—made his way to the top of the WBC lightweight rankings following a two-round wipeout of former featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar last November. The 30-year old southpaw is unbeaten in his last three starts since a failed bid at becoming a three-division titlist, a split decision defeat to then-unbeaten titlist Robert Easter Jr. in a Jan. 2018 bout where he missed weight and was unable to claim the belt even with a win.
The lone other career loss in Fortuna’s career ended his junior lightweight title reign, which ended in upset fashion when Jason Sosa rallied to score an 11th round stoppage in their June 2016 clash overseas.
Campbell (20-3, 16KOs) dropped a 12-round decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko in their three-belt lightweight fight this past August in London. The loss served as his most recent ring appearance as well as his second unsuccessful bid at capturing a lightweight title, coming up just short in a spirited Sept. 2017 12-round battle with then World Boxing Association (WBA) champ Jorge Linares.
Three wins came in between title fights, including a decisive 12-round nod over Yvan Mendy last September to avenge his first career defeat from Dec. 2015.
The entire chain of events began with Lomachenko—who secured the WBC belt in his aforementioned win over Campbell—turning in the belt in exchange for WBC “Franchise” champion status. The move, in turn, elevated Haney from interim to full titlist, with his lone defense coming in a 12-round win over Alfredo Santiago last November. The intended showcase provided more harm—literally—than good, as he is now out until at least May. Through his new status as WBC “Champion Emeritus”, the 21-year old Las Vegas native is entitled to an immediate shot at the title should he so choose upon his ring return.
By then, it will seem that a new WBC lightweight king will be crowned.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox