Robert Easter Jr. will defend his IBF lightweight title against Javier Fortuna on January 20th, 2018 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
One of the sport’s rising stars, Easter is unbeaten in 20 bouts with 14 KOs. The Toledo, Ohio native is coming off back to back successful title defenses against Luis Crus and Denis Shafikov. He will be looking to repulse a third challenger in the person of Javier Fortuna, who is making the leap from 130 pounds to challenge for the world title.
The 28-year old Fortuna briefly held the WBA (regular) 130-pound title before relinquishing it to Jason Sosa in the only loss of his professional boxing career. The Dominican Republic born fighter also held the interim WBA featherweight belt in 2012 but lost it on the scales in his first title defense.
Big Size Advantage
Easter is the favorite here at -400 while Fortuna is the underdog at +340. The champion has a huge 5 inch advantage in height and an eight inch reach advantage over his challenger. For someone like Fortuna who is moving up in weight for this fight, that difference may be too much.
But it’s not just the physical advantages that make Robert Easter the betting choice here. The champ also has excellent hand speed, footwork and a proven chin. With his athleticism, Easter is most probably the best lightweight in the world today and that’s no easy assignment for Fortuna.
Make Or Break Fight
It’s safe to say that Fortuna is over his 2016 loss to Jason Sosa because he hasn’t lost since that bout. But he hasn’t faced a marquee name in his last four bouts and is coming off a September win over unknown Nicolas Polanco.
Like Easter, Fortuna has power in both hands. He has great movement and has an explosive offensive attack. But he’s known as someone who’s great against lesser known foes. He will have to step up his game big time to match Easter’s game.
You’ve got to like Fortuna’s spunk and energy but against the best lightweight in the world, he will need more than what he’s shown so far. It’s going to be a make or break fight for Fortuna. If he wins, he belongs to the elite. If not, he is just a gatekeeper.
Fighting At A Distance
Easter’s size advantage is too much to make up for, especially if the champ can move out of harm’s way and box intelligently from the outside. There’s not much that Fortuna can do if Easter chooses to keep the fight at a distance. If that’s what happens, it will be easy picking, with Easter running away with a wide unanimous decision victory.
But if somehow Easter falls into the trap of brawling, then things could get exciting. Easter has a bad reputation for making easy fights more complicated. He can’t do that against Fortuna because he might be surprised. However, given all things, it’s safe to bet on Robert Easter.
We’re picking Robert Easter to win by a wide decision here.