Javier Fortuna doesn’t intend to allow any more time than necessary to pass by in waiting out his overdue title shot.
The former secondary 130-pound titlist is one of two mandatory challengers in waiting for WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney. Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18KOs) raced to the head of the line, following a 7th round knockout of England’s Luke Campbell in a star-making performance on Jan. 2nd in Dallas, Texas.
In the coming days, the WBC is expected to formally order the title fight, requiring both Haney (25-0, 15KOs) and Garcia to accept the invitation and from there enter a 30-day free negotiations period.
Fortuna’s side is banking on Haney still being in need of an opponent when all is said and done. The belief has prompted his team to file a formal request with the sanctioning body to ensure Fortuna’s name is called by the time the next title fight is due to be ordered.
“We petitioned to the WBC to get his shot versus Devin Haney. Now we are waiting for the answer,” Sampson Lewkowicz, Fortuna’s promoter informed BoxingScene.com. “At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure that Ryan Garcia has other plans and Javier Fortuna is ready to fight for the title right now.
“For now, we have to wait.”
Fortuna was first named as the mandatory challenger in Nov. 2019, shortly after his 2nd round knockout of Jesus Cuellar in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The win came one week prior to Haney’s first title defense after being upgraded from interim to World champion, scoring a 12-round decision win over Alfredo Santiago.
The victory came at a cost, as Haney was forced to undergo shoulder surgery which would require a six-month recovery period. The injury status left Haney unable to honor his mandatory obligations at the time versus Fortuna, resulting in the title being declared vacant and the unbeaten Las Vegas-based lightweight named “Champion in Recess.”
Fortuna was due to face Campbell for the vacant title last April in Oxon Hill, only for the bout to be canceled due to the initial wave of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The global health crisis caused the title to remain vacant by the time Haney was medically cleared to return to action, just the loophole he needed in order to successfully argue a case for reinstatement of his title reign.
The WBC then ordered two bouts to determine the new pecking order for who would next fight for the title. Garcia was ordered to face Campbell for the interim title, while Fortuna was set to face former three-division titlist Jorge Linares last August. The bout was canceled after Linares tested positive for COVID-19, with Fortuna resurfacing later in the year in a 6th round knockout of Antonio Lozada last November in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Garcia advanced to the top spot with his thrilling win over Campbell, enhancing his rising star status in the process. The win came in front of more than 6,000 socially distanced fans at American Airlines Center in Dallas, with the belief that his first career title fight could draw an even bigger crowd. That’s the part where Fortuna’s team wonders if it’s worth the risk for Garcia to proceed, knowing money will be left on the table given current restrictions.
“I believe it would be the most stupid thing on Earth to have that fight without a full stadium,” Lewkowicz notes. “That fight would sell out any arena. I believe that it would be stupid to do that fight right now.
“Devin was supposed to take the fight with Javier Fortuna last year. Now he has a chance to do so again, while Ryan Garcia can fight anyone else he wants. It would be a good test for Devin. It would be the toughest fight. It’s a good step up for him and if he wins, he would have more power to bargain with Ryan Garcia.
“Of course, we believe Javier will win the fight. But we give all of the respect to Devin as the champion. We hope he and the WBC do the right thing. Javier has waited more than a year for his world title shot.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox