One fight out from losing a tough, twelve round war against Joseph Diaz, Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna stepped into the ring to challenge Ryan Garcia for the WBC Interim Lightweight Championship.
In the case of Ryan Garcia vs. Javier Fortuna, there were noticeable disparities in size. Garcia is a tall lightweight at 5’10” and officially entered the ring at the 140 lb. limit. Garcia enjoyed 10 years of youth over his Cuban opponent, along with 5 inches of height 2 inches in reach. Despite Chris Maddox’ specific mention of Fortuna’s rehydrated weight entering the ring and the lack of any camera angle to compare the two fighters at the face off, the size advantage was clearly Garcia’s.
In the first round, Fortuna charged to the center of the ring, and was met by the steadily jabbing Garcia. Fortuna struggled to penetrate the range of Garcia and kept a high guard at range. Although he didn’t land much, Garcia’s pace never slowed. At times he looked eager to throw combinations, but few, if any, landed cleanly.
But the pressure was sufficient that, at the end of the first three minutes, Fortuna had switched to the back foot. He’d taken a few body shots early when he’d chosen to stay in the pocket and trade, and opted for a new strategy of sliding within range to score periodically while generally opting to avoid Garcia’s voluminous output. Garcia’s fast, but somewhat sloppy combinations began to flail with greater regularity by round three. Eventually, he adopted more energy efficient tactics and the smaller, older Fortuna, who’d at first avoided the flurries with his superior movement and foot speed, was eventually clipped with a left hook to the body in the fourth.
Despite the obvious pain he suffered from the much bigger Garcia’s bodyshot, Fortuna managed to will himself back from the canvas. The defense Fortuna showed from that point in the fight was visibly different, as he valiantly opted to keep his guard lower to protect his body. Garcia showed the required patience to stay behind the jab, frustrating Fortuna throughout the entirety of the match and befuddling any sustained effective retaliation with effective range management.
By round 5 Garcia was scoring a lot from range. Eventually, the undersized Cuban had no other choice but to sell out to get in. Although he landed a few well timed shots on the inside at times, Fortuna was regularly taking more damage getting into position than he had time to dish once he actually got inside. Eventually, those combinations started landing, sending Fortuna to the canvas three times in the bout.
Ryan Garcia stuck with an effective plan to beat Javier Fortuna. He played to his physical strengths and took away the smaller Cuban’s advantages. Amidst his promotional antics, questionable shenanigans, and despite the questions about his dedication to the sport, Ryan Garcia’s was the hand raised at the end of the night.