By Keith Idec
Javier Fortuna isn’t particularly impressed with how Robert Easter Jr. performed in his last fight.
Easter defeated Denis Shafikov by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder June 30 in Toledo, Ohio, Easter’s hometown. The IBF lightweight champion beat his mandatory challenger by big margins on two of the three scorecards (120-108, 120-108, 116-112), but Fortuna is certain the Easter-Shafikov fight was closer than that.
The former WBA super featherweight champion noticed flaws in Easter during that bout and delivered a message to his upcoming opponent during a recent conference call to promote their January 20 bout in Brooklyn.
“I figure he’ll be a little better than that,” Fortuna said through a translator. “Because if he just comes the way he fought his last fight, he won’t reach the fifth round. He’s got to reinvent himself, because if he don’t, he won’t go five [rounds].”
Like Russia’s Shafikov, Fortuna is a short southpaw. The Dominican Republic native realizes he is a big underdog against the taller, undefeated Easter, but is confident he’ll pull off an upset on the Errol Spence Jr.-Lamont Peterson undercard at Barclays Center (Showtime).
“That does motivate me much more and it gives me the opportunity to concentrate much more,” Fortuna said. “I’ve been the underdog a few times. Like the [Omar] Douglas fight, I’ve surprised everybody [near] his hometown. I would’ve liked for this fight to be in Ohio and that would’ve been better for me, because I perform better under pressure.”
Easter (20-0, 14 KOs) dismissed Fortuna’s predictions as expected bravado before their fight. The 5-feet-11 champion expects his size and skill to be too much for Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) in the third defense of his 135-pound championship.
“I understand what Robert’s saying, that he’s more skillful,” Fortuna said. “But he could have more skill, he could have whatever he thinks he has. But he’s not gonna have my will to win. The only way I can demonstrate it is in the ring.
“He won’t be able to [take] the power of my punches. In this fight, I’ll come more focused than any other fight. Hopefully, there’s no excuses from him or his camp. I want the best Easter that could possibly come to fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.