Three-time world champion Jorge Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) will face Javier Fortuna (35-2-1, 24 KOs) on Aug. 28 at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, California.
After Linares dispatched Carlos Morales in four rounds on Feb. 14, a showdown with the undefeated Ryan Garcia was heavily bandied about for the summer. That fight never materialized, and Linares and his representatives shifted their focus to another fight.
“We wanted that fight [with Garcia], Jorge wanted that fight more than anybody,” said Jose De La Cruz, who manages Linares. “I guess their camp is not being reasonable with Golden Boy.”
In regard to a potential July 4 fight, Garcia representative Lupe Valencia said, “What they offered Ryan was not acceptable. We can’t just accept it if we know it’s not reasonable.”
Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, told ESPN, “Fortuna was willing to fight pretty much anybody, he was available. So we made the offer to Linares, and he took it right away.”
Gomez said there is a chance that this bout could be contested for the WBC interim lightweight title.
“It was a no-brainer,” said De La Cruz. “I think it’s the right time for Jorge to fight for a world title, and to stay active, number one. He’ll be 35 by the time he fights. How many fights does he have left? We all want to know.”
Linares, who is ESPN’s No. 6 lightweight, has had a memorable career, filled with substantial victories and mind-boggling defeats. He’s captured world titles at 126, 130 and 135, but never had a long title run with any of those belts. Linares has victories over the likes of Oscar Larios, Kevin Mitchell, Anthony Crolla and Luke Campbell, and gave Vasiliy Lomachenko his toughest test to date as a professional. But Linares has also been knocked out in all five of his losses, the latest of which was when he was stopped in the first round by Pablo Cesar Cano in an ill-fated experiment at 140 at the beginning of 2019.
The 31-year-old Fortuna, who is ESPN’s No. 8 lightweight, once held the WBA 130-pound title and had a strong showing as he knocked out a faded Jesus Cuellar in two rounds last November. Fortuna, a southpaw from the Dominican Republic presents a formidable challenge for Linares with his above-average power. Should Linares overcome the challenge of Fortuna, he’ll be in line for even bigger fights.
“There’s [Devin] Haney,” said De La Cruz, mentioning the current WBC lightweight titleholder as one option. ”If Golden Boy can make the Ryan Garcia fight, if the virus doesn’t affect us late in the year, everything goes well, we want a championship fight or a big fight at the Staples Center. That’s what Golden Boy wants.”
The Aug. 28 Golden Boy card is scheduled to be the promotion’s second of the summer, following a July 24 show headlined by Vergil Ortiz and Samuel Vargas.
“Right now, it’s just those two. There’s a couple of others we’re working on.”