Javier Fortuna Aces Cristobal Cruz Test

In an intriguing doubleheader on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights from Las Vegas, we learned a couple of new things about a few young fighters that share the oversight of Sampson Lewkowicz, who manages both A-side fighters in each bout and is largely responsible for their rise.

In the main event, 22-year-old Javier Fortuna of the Dominican Republic gave himself a nine-day early birthday present, starching well-traveled Tijuana-based journeyman Cristobal Cruz inside of two rounds in their scheduled 10-round clash.

Fortuna (20-0, 15 KOs) bothered Cruz with his power early, dropping him with some wide-swining stuff inside of Cruz’s slower unorthodox punches early in the round. Cruz used all the veteran tricks he could in order to remain on his feet, pulling Fortuna to the canvas a number of times and falling to the ground at least once on his own.


In the 2nd round, however, Cruz (39-14-3, 23 KOs) was unable to survive his much younger opponent, ultimately having his night ended by a highlight-reel overhand left that he got up from, but was not allowed to continue after referee Robert Byrd halted the bout at 2:22 of the round. The punch busted up Cruz’s face on top of sending him spiraling flat into it.

Cruz was stopped for the first time in nearly a decade, and for the first time this reporter can recall, looked completely outclassed in every facet.

Fortuna, who has a case for being last year’s Prospect of the Year rather than featherweight Gary Russell, Jr. considering the higher level of competition he conquered, is ready for a step up. Though he is ranked in nearly all of the alphabet organizations, he needs a bit more seasoning before he is ready for an elite opponent.

Fortuna added his second YouTube-ready Knockout of the Year to his resume as he blasted out previously undefeated Yuandale Evans in less than a round earlier this year in a Friday Night Fights co-feature.

In the thinning junior lightweight division, Fortuna has definitely made a splash among American fight fans. One thing is for sure, Fortuna could be the most exciting Dominican since Agapito Sanchez in the mid-1990s.

In the co-feature, an interesting heavyweight fight on paper unfolded into a mismatch as Magomed Abdusalamov (15-0, 15 KOs) of Russia (now living in Oxnard, Calif.) struck down Philadelphia Maurice Byarm (13-2-1, 9 KOs) at 36 seconds of the 2nd round of their 10-round scheduled fight.

Early on it looked as though “Mago,” as he is known, was going to get his first real test as Byarm was having a fair amount of success landing when he threw, sometimes even in combination. For two minutes, Byarm looked to be better than the more to 4-to-1 underdog he was in the sportsbook of the casino he was fighting at that night.

At that point, Byarm decided to walk into the corner, allowing Mago to pound him for a solid minute before the bell saved him from nearly being knocked out standing. Byarm was woozy walking back into his corner, but was allowed to go out for the 2nd round, where he was quickly dispatched near the ropes.

Unbeaten Las Vegas native Rocco Santomouro (9-0) outclassed the game but outgunned last-minute DeWayne Wisdom (2-3, KO) of Indianapolis in their four-round featherweight swing bout. Wisdom came to win but was just a few levels below Santomouro.

Wisdom stuck around for the duration, thanks in large part to Santomouro, whom ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas called a “feather duster” due to his lack of KO power. Scores were 40-36, 39-37 twice.

In the walkout bout, cruiserweight William Mitch Williams (6-2-1, 4 KOs) of Jackson, Mich. outhustled Manuel Otero (2-4, KO) of Peralta, N.M. in their four-round bout. Williams hurt Otero a number but was unable to finish him. Otero showed his moxy in wearing the American flag trunks from Rocky, but it wasn’t enough to prevail on the scorecards, as Williams earned a unanimous decision.

Otero wore some bombs from Williams but often came back with an answer, though it never really backed off Williams who looked like the much more solid cruiserweight. It was an entertaining top off to the night.

Mark Ortega can be reached via e-mail and followed via Twitter. Mark also contributes to renowned boxing publications RING Magazine and Boxing Monthly, and is a member of the Boxing Writer’s Association of America and RING Ratings Advisory Panel.