By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – Javier Fortuna would’ve jumped at the opportunity to replace Abner Mares on short notice last week.
Much to Fortuna’s disappointment, the former WBA super featherweight and featherweight champion wasn’t asked about boxing Gervonta Davis once Mares withdrew from their 12-round, 130-pound title fight. The Dominican veteran already was training for his own fight on the Davis-Mares undercard, but Davis was preparing for a right-handed opponent and Fortuna is a southpaw.
Asking the ‘A’ side of a show to fight a southpaw on short notice isn’t standard operating procedure in boxing, thus lesser-known and less accomplished Hugo Ruiz has been afforded a shot at Davis on Saturday night in Carson, California. If Davis defeats Ruiz and Fortuna gets past Sharif Bogere in fights Showtime will televise, Fortuna wants to face Davis next.
Fortuna wasn’t at all shy about calling out Davis during an open workout Wednesday at Churchill Boxing Club in Santa Monica, California.
“Hopefully, that chicken Gervonta Davis will go up to 135,” Fortuna said through a translator. “If not, I’m willing to come down to 130 to fight him. I want his belt. I respect his promoters. They know how to take care of him and I have no problem with that. But I’m just hoping that he’s willing to fight me. He has shown a lack of respect as a human being. He hasn’t done what a champion should do and he’s fighting guys he shouldn’t be fighting.”
The confident Fortuna doesn’t expect Mexico’s Ruiz (39-4, 33 KOs) to provide all that tough of a test for Baltimore’s Davis (20-0, 19 KOs), who’s consistently listed as a 50-1 favorite over his late replacement.
“What do I think of Gervonta’s new opponent?,” Fortuna asked. “Everybody has social media and can see what the fans are saying about it.”
The 29-year-old Fortuna will fight Saturday night for the first time since the unusual conclusion to his June 16 fight against Adrian Granados in Frisco, Texas.
Fortuna suffered head and neck injuries from a fall out of the ring, unintentionally initiated by Granados’ shove during the fourth round. Emergency personnel removed Fortuna from Ford Center at The Star on a stretcher and their scheduled 10-rounder was ruled a no-contest.
Granados claimed Fortuna faked his injuries. That’s still not his fight in 2018 that bothers Fortuna most.
He feels he did enough to beat Robert Easter Jr. in their IBF lightweight title fight a year ago at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Easter edged Fortuna by split decision in their 12-rounder and moved on to the biggest fight of his career – a unanimous-decision defeat to four-division champ Mikey Garcia in a lightweight championship unification match July 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“My fight against Easter is hard to swallow,” Fortuna said. “It was one of those fights where you go in there, you work hard, you show you are the better fighter, but the judges don’t reward you for it. I know I was the better fighter. I won that fight. A lot of people saw it the same way, but sometimes the judges go for the business side of things. I was hoping for a rematch, but nobody ever gave me the opportunity.”
The Bogere-Fortuna fight will be one of three televised by Showtime as part of a telecast set to start at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT from Dignity Health Sports Park. In addition to the main event between Davis and Ruiz, Showtime will air a 10-round, junior welterweight fight that’ll pit San Antonio’s Mario Barrios (22-0, 14 KOs) against Mexico’s Richard Zamora (19-2, 12 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.