By Thomas Gerbasi
Barclays Center, Brooklyn - The Dominican Republics Javier Fortuna became a world champion for a second time in the co-main event, winning a 12-round unanimous decision over Bryan Vasquez to earn the vacant WBA junior lightweight title.
Scores were 116-112 and 117-111 twice for the 25-year-old Fortuna, who briefly held the interim WBA featherweight crown in 2012-13 before losing the belt on the scales before a bout against Miguel Zamudio.
In pre-fight interviews, both 130-pounders promised a bout to remember, and they did the best to live up to those words as soon as the action commenced, thrilling the crowd with several heated and even exchanges, with Fortuna eventually pulling ahead late in the opening round.
The exchanges were less frenetic in the second, but once each fighter got in a telling blow, they proceeded to showboat and call for more. The third and fourth rounds saw the pace pick up once more, and they were almost carbon copies of the opening frame, with solid back-and-forth action followed by strong finishes from Fortuna.
By the fifth, Fortuna was loose and beginning to impose his will more on Vasquez, who got a tongue-lashing from his corner after the round, and the Costa Rican fighter responded with a solid sixth frame where he nullified some of Fortunas attacks by making it ugly on the inside.
As the fight entered its second half, Fortuna appeared to be slowing down a bit as Vasquez did good work when pinning his foe to the ropes, but in the final minute, the La Romana native turned it up a notch with several effective flurries, and the pattern continued in round eight.
The diminished pace of the ninth round seemed to favor Fortuna, though some late flurries from Vasquez may have allowed him to steal the frame. Fortuna closed out the fight by taking the last three rounds though, making sure that his opponents success would be short-lived and non-fight altering.
With the win, Fortuna improves to 28-0-1 with 20 KOs; Vasquez, who saw a five-fight winning streak snapped, falls to 34-2 with 18 KOs.