By Keith Idec
Mikey Garcia concedes that it isn’t easy to look good against Javier Fortuna.
Garcia wasn’t especially impressed by Robert Easter Jr.’s performance against Fortuna, but he feels Easter did enough to win their 12-round lightweight title fight January 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Easter retained his IBF championship thanks to a split-decision defeat of Fortuna, a southpaw from the Dominican Republic.
“I do feel that he beat Fortuna,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com before an open workout Tuesday in Los Angeles. “It was a tough fight for him, an awkward style. Fortuna is not an easy opponent. It’s hard to look good against Fortuna. But yes, I still feel that he did beat him.”
The 30-year-old Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs), of Oxnard, California, and the 27-year-old Easter (21-0, 14 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, are set to fight July 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Showtime will televise their 12-round, 135-pound title unification fight for Garcia’s WBC championship and Easter’s IBF crown.
Easter is a 5-1 underdog against Garcia, at least in part because he struggled against the smaller Fortuna (33-2-1, 23 KOs, 1 NC).
Judges Kevin Morgan (115-112) and Glenn Feldman (114-113) scored that fight for Easter. Judge John McKaie had it for Fortuna (114-113).
Referee Ricky Gonzalez deducted a point from Fortuna in the second round for holding and hitting Easter. If Gonzalez hadn’t taken away that point from Fortuna, Easter and Fortuna would’ve been even on Feldman’s scorecard (114-114) and their fight would’ve been declared a draw.
Easter’s subpar performance against Fortuna prompted Easter to hire a new trainer, Kevin Cunningham. Easter has been working with Cunningham the past two months at Cunningham’s gym in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Garcia expects the changes Easter made in his preparation to make him a more formidable opponent two weeks from Saturday night.
“I think sometimes that’s a good thing because even though he still got the win, he was getting some criticism and he might wanna change things,” Garcia said. “Sometimes all a fighter needs is a new voice, someone new to the team that can maybe make him focus on his fight game by using the height and reach a little more. Well, he might wanna use that for this fight, in particular, against me.
“So him bringing in a new trainer should help him. But I’m well aware of that and I’m fully ready to get the best Robert Easter. I don’t want a Robert Easter that’s not gonna be in shape or not gonna be ready and not know what to do. I want the best Robert Easter, so that I can show the world that I’m that much better of a fighter.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.