All it took was one fleeting moment, and the world championship Javier Fortuna had worked his whole life to obtain was gone.
The hard-hitting Dominican Republic native brought a near-perfect record of 29-0-1 into his 130-pound title defense against Jason Sosa in June. And after dropping Sosa in the fifth round at Beijing’s Capital Gym, “El Abejon” (The Bumblebee) was looking like he would remain unbeaten.
“Sosa was throwing and missing bombs, and Fortuna was touching him up. It was an easy wipeout on the scorecards,” said Fortuna’s trainer, Hector Bermudez. “We figured it was a matter of time before getting him outta there, but everyone, including myself, kind of fell asleep.”
Sosa opened everyone's eyes in the 10th when he knocked down Fortuna, who subsequently lost another point in the round when referee Raul Caiz Jr. penalized him for spitting out his mouthpiece. But even after that 10-7 round, Fortuna remained ahead on all three judges’ scorecards.
That would change quickly as Sosa dropped the champ early in the 11th with a four-punch combination, and Caiz waved an end to the bout at the 45-second mark when Fortuna remained rubber-legged after rising to his feet.
“I was dominating when I dropped him in the fifth and never felt danger from Sosa,” said Fortuna, who disagreed with the stoppage. “I got up from a flash knockdown, wasn't hurt and should have been allowed to continue."
Javier Fortuna (30-1-1, 22 KOs) now seeks to regain his spot atop the 130-pound division, and hopes to take a step in that direction November 12 when he faces Omar Douglas (17-0, 12 KOs) in a 10-round bout before the Danny Garcia-Samuel Vargas main event in Philadelphia (Spike, 9 p.m. ET/PT).
Fortuna got back in the win column in September when he gained a second-round TKO of previously unbeaten countryman Marlyn Cabrera (22-0) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
If he is able to get past the unbeaten Douglas, Fortuna is in line to fight the winner of the November 12 title bout between Sosa and British challenger Stephen Smith.
“I made some movement mistakes against Sosa, occasionally standing still,” Fortuna said. “Douglas hasn't seen my technique. I think I’ll knock him out between Rounds 5 and 7.
“If I can make it two wins over previously unbeaten fighters, I'm right back in contention.”
Fortuna, who now resides in Braintree, Massachusetts, turned pro in 2009 following a decorated amateur career in his home country. The southpaw earned an interim world title in April 2013 before being elevated to “regular” champion in May 2015 when he defeated Bryan Vasquez by unanimous decision in Brooklyn, New York.
Fortuna defended his title against Carlos Ivan Velasquez in September 2015 with a 10th-round TKO before being upset by Sosa in his next fight.
Douglas has defeated southpaws in three of his last four fights, but Fortuna and his team don’t believe that “Super O” possesses the skills needed to take down the former champ.
“Once we get past Douglas, we’ll fight the winner of Sosa-Smith," Bermudez said. “Fortuna's loss was more his fault than Sosa being better.”