Javier Fortuna and Luke Campbell and their respective handlers have been granted yet another extension to work out terms for their vacant title fight.
On the heels of a purse bid hearing having been ordered by the World Boxing Council (WBC) for their lightweight title fight, the sanctioning body approved a request to continue talks for another week, BoxingScene.com has learned.
Eddie Hearn, Campbell's promoter submitted the request at the time of the purse bid hearing announcement, which was due to take place Tuesday, January 21 at WBC headquarters in Mexico City. The extension request was agreed upon by Lewkowicz on behalf of Sampson Boxing—Fortuna's promoter—and blessed by the WBC.
Talks have been ongoing since the fight was first ordered in December. The original deadline of January 3 was extended more than two weeks, with both sides asking for more time due to the holiday season. Efforts to secure a deal fell short enough to prompt the WBC to intervene, yet the two sides remain close enough to where it's believed another seven days can finally provide closure.
Fortuna and Campbell are due to collide for the vacant WBC lightweight title. The belt became available after previous claimant Devin Haney (24-0, 15KOs) relinquished in exchange for designation as “Champion in Recess” as he recovers from recent shoulder surgery. The 21-year old enjoyed just a seven-week stay as a WBC titlist, first claiming the interim belt in a four-round wipeout of Zaur Abdullaev.
Las Vegas' Haney was then upgraded to full titlist after unified titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko was granted the WBC “Franchise” champion tag in late October. His lone successful defense came in a 12-round decision over Alfred Santiago in November, though with the intended showcase leaving him with an injured shoulder which required surgery. The recovery time was extensive enough to where he couldn't full commit to a mandatory title defense versus Fortuna (35-2-1, 24KOs), a former two-division titlist from Dominican Republic who now trains out of the greater Boston area.
Fortuna 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.
England’s Campbell (20-3, 16KOs)—a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist—dropped a 12-round decision to 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.
Both sides have motivation to secure the rights to the ordered title fight. Campbell has spent his entire pro career with Hearn's Matchroom Boxing, which enjoys platform deals with Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and DAZN in the United States (and other global markets). While Lewkowicz' Sampson Boxing generally does business with everyone, Fortuna fights under adviser Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champion (PBC) banner, whose events are carried by Fox Sports and Showtime.
Hearn has also shown flexibility in working with other promoters and platforms, including Campbell's challenge of Lomachenko being carried on ESPN+ in the United States with the event playing on Sky Box Office in the UK. As such, it remains in the best interest of all parties involved to work out terms before other parties have the chance to intervene—the risk they run should this fight make its way to a purse bid hearing.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox