LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — Tabbed by boxing insiders as one of top prospects in all of the sport, undefeated Javier Fortuna looks to make a statement against one of the longtime measuring sticks in the lower weight divisions, former featherweight champion Cristobal Cruz in tonight’s ESPN2-televised main event emanating from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Fighters for the five-bout card weighed-in Thursday at the casino’s Vanity Night Club.
When the originally scheduled main event of Marvin Sonsona-Luis Cruz was scratched, the spotlight shifted from a former champion and contender to what was to be the co-feature, featuring one of boxing’s likely future stars. Fortuna (19-0, 14 KOs) of Oxnard, California by way of La Romana, La Romana, Dominican Republic has been impressive since stepping up his level of competition in March of last year.
Derrick Wilson was one of the first fellow prospects to discover Fortuna’s power, as he lasted into the eighth round before the bout was stopped after his fourth knockdown. Most recently, previously unbeaten Yuandale Evans had the unenviable task of attempting to halt Fortuna’s ride to prominence. Evans, well regarded as a U.S. amateur, failed to make it out of round one against the pride of La Romana. Now Fortuna will attempt to do the same against a former world champion for the first time in his career.
Cruz (39-13-3, 23 KOs) of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico became one of the unlikeliest world champs back in October of 2008 as he edged Orlando Salido to claim the vacant IBF Featherweight title via split decision. After three defenses, Cruz ran up against a reinvigorated Salido and lost the rematch and his title in wide unanimous decision in May of 2010. In his last time out, in a bout that was televised by ESPN2, Cruz failed in an attempt at claiming the WBC Silver 130-pound title from Juan Carlos Burgos this past February. Cruz weighed in for the ten-round bout at 128-pounds Thursday, while Fortuna made 129.
Both fighters seemed pumped for the fight at yesterday’s press conference. “It’s a tough fight,” admitted the WBA #3/IBF #6/WBC #8 ranked featherweight Fortuna. “I know he has a lot of experience, but this is my time.” Cruz on the other hand sees the fight as a potential launching pad into the next chapter of his career. “I am ready for anything tomorrow night because I am hungry to be world champion again,” proclaimed Cruz.
In the televised co-feature, promoter Sampson Lewkowicz’ heavyweight prospect Magomed Abdusalamov (14-0, 14 KOs) of Oxnard by way of Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan, Russia takes on what looks to be the toughest assignment of his pro career in Maurice Byarm (13-1-1, 9 KOs) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a ten-round bout. Byarm was last seen as he took on undefeated prospect Bryant Jennings on short notice, losing a competitive ten-round decision televised by NBC Sports Network this past January. Abdusalamov, the WBA #13 ranked heavyweight, scaled 229-pounds Thursday, while Byarm weighed-in at 239.
The rest of the card is filled out by three four-round bouts. Local favorite Rocco Santomauro (8-0) of Las Vegas takes on DeWayne Wisdom (2-3, 1 KO) of Indianapolis, Indiana in a featherweight scrap. Santomauro, who has never fought outside of Las Vegas as a pro, scaled 124 ½-pounds. Wisdom, fighting for the fourth time this year, weighed-in at 125-pounds.
William Mitch Williams (5-2-1, 4 KOs) of Jackson, Michigan takes on Manuel Otero (2-3, 1 KO) of Peralta, New Mexico in a four-round cruiserweight contest. Williams, hoping to extend his five-fight unbeaten streak, weighed-in at 181-pounds. Otero, fighting for the first time this year, came in at 184.
Promising super middleweight prospect Ronald Gavril (2-0, 1 KO) of Los Angeles, California by way of Bucharest, Romania will take on Kenneth Taylor Schmitz (2-2, 1 KO) of Saint Joseph, Missouri in a four-rounder. Gavril, a top AIBA amateur from 2007-2010, weighed-in at 167-pounds. Schmitz, fresh off of a four-round unanimous decision loss to undefeated Antowyan Aikens on June 1st, scaled 169 ½-pounds.
Tickets for the event, dubbed “Moment of Truth” and promoted by Sampson Boxing and Greg Cohen Promotions, are available online at HardRockHotel.com.
Quick Weigh-in Results:
Super Featherweights, 10 Rounds
WBC USNBC Silver Heavyweight Championship, 10 Rounds
Featherweights, 4 Rounds
Santomauro 124 ½
Cruiserweights, 4 Rounds
Super Middleweights, 4 Rounds
Schmitz 169 ½
Mario Ortega Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.