LOS ANGELES – As the proverbial “B” side of this promotion, Javier Fortuna feels he cannot allow his 12-round fight with Ryan Garcia to go the distance.
The Dominican southpaw suspects that no matter what transpires against Garcia, he won’t be able to beat the popular lightweight contender on the scorecards Saturday night at Crypto.com Arena.
“I have to knock him out,” Fortuna told BoxingScene.com following their press conference Thursday at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. “I can’t let it go to the scorecards. Even if I drop him several times, I won’t win the fight on the scorecards anyway.”
Fortuna’s skepticism stems from disappointing experiences in 12-round fights in recent years. The 13-year veteran thinks he deserved more credit than the judges gave him for his performances in a pair of fights that resulted in a split-decision loss to Robert Easter Jr. and a unanimous-decision defeat to Joseph Diaz Jr.
The outcome of his fight with Easter, then the IBF lightweight champion, in January 2018 was particularly controversial.
Judge John McKaie scored Fortuna a 114-113 winner that night, despite that he had a point deducted for holding and hitting Easter in the second round. Judges Kevin Morgan (115-112) and Glenn Feldman (114-113) both scored that fight for Easter 4½ years ago at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Fortuna feels he was “robbed” versus Easter and thinks the Diaz bout was much closer than the judges had it. Judges Michael Tate (117-110), Karen Holderfield (116-111) and Zachary Young (115-112) all scored Diaz the winner of their 12-round fight for the WBC interim lightweight title last July 9 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
“Obviously, there’s been a couple of times in my career where that’s happened,” Fortuna said during the press conference. “I left it up to the judges and it wasn’t a good thing. Now, you know, it’s either he kills me or I kill him.”
Fortuna (37-3-1, 26 KOs, 2 NC) was supposed to fight Garcia the night he lost to Diaz (32-2-1, 15 KOs), but Garcia withdrew from their bout soon after it was officially announced to deal with his mental health issues. The former WBA world 130-pound and WBA interim 126-pound champion didn’t think Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs) would reschedule their fight once he returned to training.
The judges hadn’t been revealed as of Thursday night for a main event DAZN will stream Saturday night, but Sampson Lewkowicz, whose company promotes Fortuna, is a little more optimistic than his boxer about the possibility of Fortuna defeating Garcia on the scorecards.
“In California sometimes, who knows? But I have faith in the judges,” Lewkowicz told BoxingScene.com. “I know many of them and I can tell you if it goes the distance, he needs to be at his best and beat Garcia at least eight rounds to get the decision.”
The 23-year-old Garcia went 12 rounds for the first time in six years as a pro in his last fight.
The hard-hitting Garcia knocked Ghana’s Emmanuel Tagoe to the canvas during the second round, but Tagoe got up and took Garcia’s power well enough thereafter to take Garcia the distance. Garcia, of Victorville, California, beat Tagoe (32-2, 15 KOs) by wide distances on the scorecards of judges Tom Carusone (119-108), Lisa Giampa (118-109) and Ellis Johnson (119-108).
Garcia won his previous five fights by knockout or technical knockout. He has predicted he won’t go the distance in a second straight bout when he faces Fortuna.
The 33-year-old Fortuna has lost inside the distance only once as a pro. Underdog Jason Sosa stopped him in the 11th round of their June 2016 fight for Fortuna’s WBA world super featherweight title in Beijing.
The last southpaw Garcia faced, Luke Campbell, dropped him in the second round. Garcia got up, though, regained control of their 12-round fight and stopped England’s Campbell (20-4, 16 KOs) with a body shot in the seventh round of a January 2021 bout at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Garcia’s victory over Campbell stands as his most impressive performance, though he hopes to top it in the way he defeats Fortuna.
“You know what? I’m just determined to do something amazing, entertain the fans, give ‘em a good show,” Garcia said. “You know, so I’ll be looking to do something amazing in the ring. He wants to knock me out as well, so we’re coming in, we’re gonna throw our punches and we’re gonna give the fans a great fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.