Javier Fortuna has spent all of 2020 expecting to fight for a title or at least in a scenario that would leave him next line.
The stakes weren’t quite there in the fight he ultimately, although that never stopped the southpaw from performing at a championship level.
Fortuna negated a near 7" height and 5 1/2" reach disadvantage against the 6'1" Antonio Lozada to overwhelm the Tijuana inside of six rounds Saturday evening from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Lozada was floored in round one and outgunned over the course of their lightweight scrap before referee Gerald White was forced to stop the contest at 2:34 of round six in their PBC on FS1 main event.
Fortuna hadn’t fought in more than a year but didn’t waste anytime letting his hands go once the bell sounded to begin the opening round. The Dominican southpaw repeatedly caught the much taller and longer Lozada with right hooks and overhand lefts. Lozada found himself trapped along the ropes midway through the round after taking a clean right hook across the chin. An overhand left—partially aided by Fortuna cupping his hand—floored Lozada with just more than a minute to go in the round.
Time was called close to the end of the opening frame, as a clash of heads left Fortuna with a cut along his right eyebrow. It didn’t prove to be a factor—nor was it of any concern to world class cutman Mike Rodriguez—although Fortuna chose to box and play defense in a slower paced but still effective round two.
Lozada found himself back on the canvas in round three, though ruled a slip. Fortuna appeared to connect with a left hand, though it came as their feet became tangled.
Both boxers were warned for extracurricular activity by referee Gerald White, who was forced to remain an active preference given the frequent clash of heads in a battle of southpaw versus orthodox boxer. Fortuna was issued a stern warning for hitting on the break in round four, to which the 30-year old willingly obliged and did his best to keep it clean moving forward.
Fortuna picked up his offensive output in round five, all while using every inch of the ring. Lozada was left to assume the role of plodder, chasing around Fortuna and missing wildly with long-reaching right hands.
A more committed approach by Fortuna was enough to close the show just one round later. Lozada quickly found himself on the defensive, his offense completely shut down as Fortuna unloaded with power punches along the ropes. The sharpshooting lefty cracked Lozada with a right hook to the chin, opening up the floodgates for a series of unanswered blows before referee Gerald White was forced to intervene.
Fortuna dominated Lozada (40-5-1, 34KOs) across the board, landing 107-of-316 punches (34%) compared to just 45-of-292 (15%) for Lozada who is now just 1-3-1 in his last five starts since an upset 10th round knockout of unbeaten Felix Verdejo in March 2018.
The win keeps alive Fortuna’s hopes of landing a lightweight title shot. The former secondary junior lightweight titlist is the mandatory challenger to the 135-pound strap currently in the possession of unbeaten Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs). The two were ordered to fight last fall, only for Haney to vacate the belt due to requiring shoulder surgery.
Fortuna was due to face England’s Luke Campbell for the vacant title this past April, only for the event to be canceled due to the initial wave of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The sport shutting down as a whole was enough of a loophole for Haney to reclaim his title, leaving Fortuna to explore another opportunity.
It was to come in a showdown with former three-division titlist Jorge Linares this past August, only for Linares to test positive for COVID-19. Failure to secure an acceptable replacement foe to appease sports streaming service DAZN left Fortuna once again without a fight and out of the ring since a 2nd round knockout of Jesus Cuellar last November.
Saturday’s win in the third straight for the Dominican contender, who has every intention of chasing a belt in 2021. His best option remains Haney, as lineal champion (and unified titlist) Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) will be tied up with at least one mandatory challenge of his own. Haney is coming off of a 12-round shutout of Yuriorkis Gamboa earlier this month and is angling for a ring return in the first quarter of the New Year.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox