Lightweight contender Javier Fortuna, who is in need of a new opponent because of the withdrawal of the ill Jorge Linares, likely will face substitute Hector Tanajara Jr., an undefeated up-and-comer, sources with knowledge of the discussions told BoxingScene.com on Sunday.
Linares, a former three-division world titleholder, was scheduled to fight Fortuna in a 12-round lightweight bout in the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions’ card on DAZN on Aug. 28 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
On Friday, however, Linares co-promoter Teiken Boxing announced that the 34-year-old Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) had tested positive for Covid-19 would be unable to go through with the fight against Fortuna.
Linares, who is from Venezuela but trains in Japan, is hospitalized with mild symptoms in Tokyo, where the Venezuela native spends a lot of time and trains.
So, over the past couple of days, Golden Boy and Fortuna promoter Sampson Lewkowicz have been looking for an opponent to replace Linares and they came up with the Golden Boy-promoted prospect Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs), 23, of San Antonio, who would be taking a big step up in competition if the fight is finalized.
Tanajara, however, should already be close to fighting shape because he was supposed to return to action on the undercard of Golden Boy’s DAZN card headlined by welterweight Vergil Ortiz Jr. against Samuel Vargas on July 24 at Fantasy Springs in a 10-rounder against former world title challenger Mercito Gesta. However, the bout was canceled on the morning of the weigh-in because Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs) woke up with a stomach bug – not coronavirus related -- and withdrew.
According to the sources, Golden Boy, Tanajara, Lewkowicz and Fortuna are on board with the fight but awaiting approval of the bout from DAZN, which is familiar with Tanajara from having streamed his recent fights.
Tanajara is coming off the most notable victory of his five-year professional career, a 10-round decision over former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos on Jan. 11 on the Jaime Munguia-Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan undercard at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Former junior lightweight world titlist Fortuna (35-2-1, 24 KOs), a 31-year-old southpaw from the Dominican Republic, is coming off a second-round knockout win over featherweight world titlist Jesus Cuellar in November.
Other bouts scheduled for the Aug. 28 card include welterweight Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (22-0, 14 KOs) against Brad Solomon (28-3, 9 KOs); super middleweight prospect Bektemir “Bully” Melikuziev (5-0, 4 KOs) against Alan Campa (17-5, 11 KOs); Alexis Rocha (16-0, 10 KOs) versus Jameson Bacon (23-4, 15 KOs) and former junior lightweight world title challenger Lamont Roach Jr. (19-1-1, 7 KOs) versus Neil Tabanao (17-7, 11 KOs).
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.