Javier Fortuna: A Fighter's Journey Begins
By Gabriel Montoya, from Maxboxing.com (March 9, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing
While Middleweight Champion of the World Sergio Martinez warmed up at the Flores brothers’ World Crown Sports Training Center near Oxnard, CA, inside the ring, little-known (likely subject to change) Javier Fortuna, 13-0 (10), went about the business of making the man in front of him miss and pay in equal measure. A native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the southpaw featherweight prospect has the grace of a smooth boxer, the power of a serious puncher, and the natural-born willingness to do what it takes to become a champion. This was first displayed by how he first got into the world of boxing.

“Well, first of all, I got into boxing because I liked it. My brother [Jonathon Alexander Fortuna] liked it. My brother was the one who started first. The only boxers in my house were my brother and I but he started first. Then I used to go hiding from him [to train] because he didn't like me practicing boxing.”

Fortuna explained that fighting was not just a passion for him; it was something that he could not avoid because of his mouth.

“In my house, since I was a little kid, I was a blabber,” said Fortuna. “I used to fight all the time. People used to tell my mom, "Here is Javier fighting; here is Javier fighting."

Just because Fortuna was a streetfighter didn’t mean he was necessarily good at it but he was game enough that a local trainer saw him and decided to help the boy learn.

“An instructor from the ‘Coliseo’ in Santo Domingo saw me and told me, "Come to practice so you learn how to fight.’ I told him that I liked boxing but that my brother did not like me boxing. He said, "No, but come; come that I will talk to [Jonathon].’ My brother said no, that I was too little for that. And I went hiding from him.”

The 11-year-old Javier hid from his brother, training after Jonathon left the gym, hoping to get good enough to not only win but to impress his brother into letting him fight. It all came to a head before Javier’s first tournament.

“One day when some matches were arranged in the province itself, club matches, and he saw that I was registered in the list, and that I was going to fight with a guy named Aquino Severino.”

At that point, there was nothing Jonathon could do but help his little brother and so the two began to work together once Jonathon’s training was finished.

“He gave me a lot of support,” said Fortuna. “I am very grateful. I learned about a tournament through him; the first tournament I participated in, he helped me a lot with, taught me a lot in training. We used to always come across each other in training hours. He used to train before me; he used to train a session from two [o’clock] to four and I used to train from five to seven, [or] 6:30. He always stayed there with me and he used to help me at home too.”

Fortuna went on with his brother’s blessing to have an impressive amateur career. Fighting somewhat defensively at times but with an aggressive streak, Fortuna added tools to his game over the years and show his brother and fighters all over the world exactly why he and boxing took such a liking to each other.

“I did well in my amateur career. It shined a lot internationally and nationally,” said Fortuna, a very quiet, very humble young man, when I asked him to list his credits. “I participated in the first Pan American Junior Championship in the Federal District of Mexico in 2003. After that, I participated in a World Junior Championship in India. In Morocco, I won bronze. In the Pan American [games], I won silver. After that, I entered a tournament in Ecuador and I won gold and from there, I went to the Independence Cup in Santo Domingo, where Cuba, United States, Puerto Rico and several countries participate. I won two gold medals there in the Independence Cup. In my first year in Copa Romana, I participated [at] 16 years of age. I was one of the youngest. I won bronze. Next time there, I won silver. In national tournaments, I won gold and in youth tournaments, I won a gold and a silver.”

By age 17, it was time for Fortuna to turn pro and he did just that on March 30, 2009 with a first round knockout win over Ricardo Johnson. He would go on to win nine of his next 11 pro fights, all in the Dominican Republic (The other two were a win in the U.S. Virgin Islands and a no-contest in the Dominican Republic). Finally, Fortuna was discovered by veteran gem finder Sampson Lewkowicz, whose credits include discovering Sergio Martinez and Manny Pacquiao among others. Two years ago, Fortuna came to the U.S. in search of what all fighters want: a better place in life for themselves and their families. Jonathon stayed behind and to this day, still fights in amateur tournaments.

At first glance, with his shoulder roll and movement, you might say, “Uh-oh, this guy is a cutie,” and dismiss him as a “Fancy Dan” or simply a “mover.” However, there is an aggressive streak that belies the tools Fortuna uses. For him, it comes down to what the opponent brings to the table.

“Well, my boxing style...I have several different approaches to boxing depending on the opponent I am going to fight,” he explained. “I am not saying I am in a top position already in terms of opponents but I like to fight like Floyd Mayweather and ‘Maravilla’ Martinez fight. I like to fight in those styles. Since I was a little kid, I've been fighting like that.”

Right now, it is hard to tell where Fortuna is at. His opponents have been of the “feed to prospect” variety. However, his last fight was a step-up and Fortuna raised his game to the moment, stopping fellow prospect, then 8-0 Victor Valenzuela, in just one round. New promoter Lou DiBella, who signed Fortuna on the advice of Lewkowicz, could not have been more pleased with the youngster.

Now Fortuna trains at the World Crown Sports Gym under the tutelage of Gabriel Sarmiento, who also trains Martinez. He will need every ounce of their expertise in his fight this Saturday night at the Foxwoods Resort Casino on the undercard of Martinez vs. Sergiy Dzinziruk. Fortuna will be stepping up yet again as squares off with the dangerous spoiler Derrick Wilson, 8-1-2 (2), for the vacant WBC “Youth” featherweight title. Wilson upset Charles Huerta and Ricky Lopez’s apple carts when the young prospects were just starting out and now, he hopes to do the same to Fortuna. With his movement and sneaky power, it is possible Wilson could do just that but Fortuna, with his team of Sarmiento and the support of “Maravilla,” feels he is not only in good hands but ready for the next step.

“Oh, I feel good; that gives me a lot of encouragement to continue training and keep going forward,” said Fortuna, as he smiled shyly. “Hearing the comments I have heard about them and how they came from the bottom, it gives me a lot of encouragement and I feel good training with this team.”

You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim or tune into hear him live on Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST when he co-hosts the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

* Special Thanks

© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing Inc. 1998-2011