There are plenty of other ways that Javier Fortuna would have rather spent his 2020.
In the end, he still gets what he wanted first and foremost—the opportunity to fight.
“We had two fights canceled this year due to COVID-19,” Fortuna noted to BoxingScene.com. “But I never stopped training—even if only training at 75% just to maintain at times—because we always believed that next fight was a phone call away.”
There is truth to that logic, as the Dominican southpaw returns to the ring this weekend. Fortuna will face Mexico’s Antonio Lozada (40-4-1, 34KOs), in a 10-round lightweight fight live this Saturday on FS1 from a crowdless Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
It’s a far cry from the title fight he was promised, when Fortuna (35-2-1, 24KOs) was due to face England’s Luke Campbell (20-3, 16KOs) this past April in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Their lightweight title fight was canceled due to the initial wave of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The infectious disease also wreaked havoc on Fortuna’s plans to face Jorge Linares, who tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of their eventually canceled August 28 clash at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Efforts to keep Fortuna–a 31-year old from La Romana, D.R. who is now based in the greater Boston area—on the show proved futile, with the event scrapped altogether.
All told, Fortuna will have been out of the ring for 55 weeks by the time the opening bell sounds this weekend.
In that time, he has seen the lightweight title for which he was due to contend since land back in the hands of Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs) who defended in a 12-round win over Yuriorkis Gamboa earlier this month. He has also witnessed Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) surge to the top of the division following a 12-round points victory over Vasilily Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs) in their World lightweight championship this past October.
At some point either in mid-December or early in 2021 will come the interim lightweight title fight between Campbell and Victorville, California’s Ryan Garcia (20-0, 17KOs). As to why Fortuna was left out of the mix altogether remains unanswered questions, although he still serves as the mandatory challenger to Haney’s title.
With that, a win on Saturday should land him where he prefers at some point early in 2021—pretty much where he expected to be at the same point earlier this year.
“I would love to fight for the title next I feel like I have earned it already,” insists Fortuna, who is coming off of a 2nd round knockout of Jesus Cuellar last November. “My next fight (after Cuellar) was supposed to be Devin Haney for the world title. He was injured so I was supposed to fight Luke Campbell for the vacant title.
“So now I feel like I’m fighting twice for my title shot. But that’s OK. Everything happens for a reason, and I know my team will make sure I am right where I belong after I win (on Saturday).”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox