Javier Fortuna officially has his marching orders for his next title fight.
The former two-division titlists from Dominican Republic has been ordered by the World Boxing Council (WBC) to begin negotiations for a vacant lightweight title fight versus England’s Luke Campbell. The two sides will have until January 3, 2020 to come to terms, or else the bout will be subject to a purse bid hearing.
As first reported by BoxingScene.com on Thursday, the title became vacant after previous claimant Devin Haney (24-0, 15KOs) was named “Champion in Recess” as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
"Haney has undergone surgery," Mauricio Sulaiman, president of WBC told BoxingScene.com. "He will be placed in Champion in Recess. Fortuna will fight Luke Campbell for the WBC title."
Fortuna (35-2-1, 24KOs) was originally in line to next face Haney, with their fight ordered in November, with the bout due to head to a purse bid hearing on Friday. Those plans have since been scrapped, as Haney is unable to compete and, as such, has relinquished his title with the assurance of being first in line to fight for the strap should he so choose that upon his ring return.
The development ends Haney’s title stay at a total of just seven weeks dating back to his Sept. 13th interim title win over previously unbeaten Zaur Abdullaev. The now 21-year old lightweight received an upgrade to full titlist after Vasiliy Lomachenko was named the sanctioning body’s ‘Franchise’ champ during its annual convention this past October in Cancun, Mexico.
One successful defense followed for Haney, a 12-round win over unbeaten but unheralded Alfred Santiago, their November bout designed as an intended showcase in Los Angeles, California. The night instead left Haney with a shoulder injury requiring surgery and now putting him out of the ring—and the title picture—for the foreseeable future.
As Haney is promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA, it leaves Fortuna’s team—Sampson Lewkowicz’s Sampson Boxing—to negotiate with the same involved parties for the next order of business. Hearn has also served as the career-long promoter for Campbell (20-3, 16KOs), a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist who has maintained a lofty WBC ranking despite coming off a convincing loss to Lomachenko in their three-belt lightweight fight this past August in London.
Campbell also came 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.
Fortuna emerged as the top-rated contender following two-round wipeout of former featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar this past November in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The 30-year old Dominican southpaw—who now trains out of the greater Boston area—held titles at featherweight and junior lightweight, while falling short both at the scale and in the ring for his Jan. 2018 lightweight title challenge of then-unbeaten Robert Easter Jr.
The bulk of Fortuna’s bouts in recent years have been fought under the Premier Boxing Champion (PBC) banner. Campbell fights primarily on Sky Sports through Hearn’s long-running deal with the United Kingdom-based platform, with the high-profile promoter also serving as the primary content provider for over-the-top (OTT) media service DAZN in the United States.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox