Robert Easter Jr. should be feeling lucky to have retained his lightweight title thanks to a split-decision victory over Javier Fortuna on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Easter would have retained his lightweight title on the Errol Spence Jr.-Lamont Peterson undercard because Fortuna (33-2-1, 23 KOs) failed to make weight at Friday’s weigh-in, despite the outcome of the fight.
Still, Easter barely got the win, with two judges scoring the fight for Easter, 115-112 and 114-113, and one scoring it for Fortuna 114-113.
The crowd booed loudly when the scores were announced.
“It was a tough fight,” Easter said (h/t ESPN).
“He’s a former world champion for a reason. We made it tough trying to counterpunch. He wasn’t throwing much, and it made it difficult for me to chase this guy around. I couldn’t get the knockout, but we got the win, and that’s all that matters. I knew he was going to run once he felt my power. He just wanted to grab and hold the whole fight.”
If Easter is to land the unification bouts against Mikey Garcia or Jorge Linares the he wants, this performance did little to help his case.
“I want to fight the champions and unify this belt. Fights like these aren’t in my game plan,” Easter said. “I’m ready for Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares to sign the contract. No one can beat me. He just ran and held all fight. I apologize that I didn’t get the knockout, but the win is all that matters.”
Fortuna looked strong and felt as though he made a statement in the fight, despite the failed weight.
“The public knows what happened here. They booed because they know that I won this fight,” Fortuna said. “If he’s a man, let’s fight again at 135 pounds. I will definitely make the weight. I didn’t give myself enough time to train.”