Javier Fortuna, who has never boxed at a weight heavier than 133 pounds in his nine-year career, failed to make the 135-pound limit at the weigh-in on Friday for a lightweight world title challenge against Robert Easter Jr., and he is ineligible to win the belt.
Fortuna agreed to pay Easter $10,000 from his purse and the fight will go on as planned on Saturday (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, but with greatly reduced stakes. Easter, who is making his third defense, will retain the title even if he loses the fight, assuming he does not put on more than 10 pounds before the IBF-mandated weight check on Saturday morning.
Easter weighed in at 134.5 pounds on Friday, moments after Fortuna stepped on the scale at 136.8 pounds, well over the division limit. Fortuna had two hours to attempt to lose the weight and spent about 90 minutes in a sauna, but when he returned to the scale he had gotten down to only 136.4 pounds.
Easter, 26, of Toledo, Ohio, called Fortuna out for not being professional.
“He doesn’t really want to get in there,” Easter said. “It’s unprofessional. I come make weight all the time and don’t have any setbacks to make the fight. We’re ready to get this thing going. We’re going to fight. There’s been too many words to just back out of the fight. I’m not angry. I’m just ready to fight. We had a long, tremendous training camp and we put this hard work in, so why stop now?”
It’s not the first time Fortuna, a former junior lightweight world titleholder, has missed weight for a title fight.
In 2013, he was set to make the first defense of an interim featherweight belt against Miguel Zamudio but was stripped of the title at the scale for weighing 126.75 pounds for a fight with a limit of 126 pounds.
Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw from the Dominican Republic, blamed the cold weather for his inability to make weight on Friday.
“It was a little difficult to get down to the weight I’m at now because of the weather,” Fortuna said through a translator. “I’m not used to this climate.”
The main-event fighters both made weight with no issue. Welterweight world titleholder Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) was right on the division limit of 147 pounds and challenger Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs), a former two-division world titleholder, was 146.75 pounds.