“I want to be #1 pound for pound. That’s what I want. Until I reach that goal, I will not retire from boxing,” said Javier Fortuna in an exclusive interview with ThaBoxingVoice.com earlier this fall. Tonight, on the undercard of one of the biggest fights of the year, Fortuna beat a solid undefeated prospect in Patrick Hyland but didn’t show us the magic he has displayed in the past few fights.
Leading up to the bout, there was a lot of talk about Fortuna’s struggles to make weight in his last two of fights. When he entered the ring tonight, he re-hydrated 16 pounds and looked to add weight, to the age, speed and power advantage he was expected to have on Patrick Hyland.
After the referee gave his instructions and the bell to signal the first round went off, we were treated (not really) to a painfully slow first round, save for a few body shots from Fortuna. Both boxers spent the round measuring each other up as they established their distance with their respective jabs and timed each other’s approaches.
In the rounds that followed, Fortuna started each with a confidence and quickness that implied that he had learned something in the first three minutes of the fight. As Hyland worked on placing his straight right hand, Fortuna used his rapid foot work to get himself in position to land his left hook. He switched between his stablemate and mentor Sergio Martinez’s hands-low quick feinting style, to the conventional southpaw stand, to a semi-crouched offensive style that made it seem as if he was winding up for a massive power punch, to even a few fleeting moments of the shoulder roll defensive style.
During Fortuna’s exhibition Patrick Hyland seemed to be more of a spectator at his own championship fight, as if he was sitting on his couch watching the fight with a Tecate in his hand as opposed to being in the ring fighting for the world title.
Between rounds, trainer Pablo Sarmiento implored Fortuna to be more active, despite the fact the he was already significantly out-throwing and out-landing Patrick Hyland. His promotional team would have surely wanted “El Abejon” (the bumblebee) to sting as quickly as he had in past fights but the higher-caliber Hyland was able to absorb Fortuna’s strongest hooks and uppercuts, especially as Fortuna lost steam as the fight went on.
A few decent exchanges took place in the otherwise uneventful 7th and 8th rounds, though most punches were blocked. While these flurries seemed to tire Fortuna out as the fight went on, it seemed that Hyland began building some confidence as Fortuna slowed down. He began landing the right hand like he wanted to land it in the second round but Fortuna’s incessant head movement and footwork prevented the impact that Hyland sought.
In the 9th and 10th rounds, Fortuna ended up in the canvas on more than one occasion, but more due to Ric Flair-esque arm drags than any punch that was thrown. There were a few moments in which a brawl ensued in the center of the ring, resulting in a cut around Fortuna’s left eye but the action dwindled about as quickly as it arrived.
As the fight came to a close, Hyland continued landing his jab and straight right hands as Fortuna went deeper into a fight than he ever had previously and it showed. He lost the spring in his step and the loss of footwork that he displayed earlier on in the fight.
When it was all said and done, Fortuna out landed Hyland by over 100 punches and had a solid showing but seemed to lack the conditioning that would be needed to make it through a 12 round contest with the likes of Daniel Ponce de Leon, Mikey Garcia, and Orlando Salido.
The unanimous decision for Javier Fortuna left the announcers, the crowd, and his own corner seemingly wanting more.
Fundamentally, Fortuna has all of the tools to be a successful fighter and very few people will be surprised if he remains undefeated and relevant for a very long time. The gap between his potential and what will ultimately be realized will depend on his dedication to and respect for the sport of boxing.
His saving grace may well be his camp, which is known to take training and conditioning extremely seriously. Maybe watching the replay of this fight will motivate the young Fortuna to go on a few more early morning bike rides with his stablemate and top pound for pound fighter Sergio Martinez.