Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions
UNDEFEATED 135-pound world champion Robert Easter will defend his IBF Title against former world champion Javier Fortuna in the co-main event of Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) on Saturday, Jan. 20 from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING® and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
Easter vs. Fortuna rounds out the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader that features IBF Welterweight World Champion and 2012 U.S. Olympian Spence making his first title defence against former two-division world champion Peterson.
In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING PRELIMS, unbeaten light heavyweight Marcus Browne, from Staten Island, will take on once-beaten Francy Ntetu in a 10-round fight and undefeated heavyweight sensation Adam Kownacki, who fights out of Brooklyn by way of Lomza, Poland, will face once-beaten Iago Kiladze of Kiev, Ukraine in a 10-round bout.
The live digital offering will be exclusive in the U.S. on the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and the SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page.
Easter (20-0, 14 KOs) will be making the third defence of his lightweight world title since he won it with a split decision over Richard Commey on Sept. 9, 2016. The 26-year-old Easter successfully defended the title twice in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio last year, defeating Luis Cruz by unanimous decision on Feb. 10 and then following it up with a unanimous decision victory over Denis Shafikov in his last outing on June 30.
“When I first won the title I knew that many obstacles would be thrown at me, but that’s what the game is all about,’’ Easter said. “I’ve successfully overcome them and defended the title in some tough fights and on January 20 we’re looking to do the same thing. I believe every fighter can give you problems, but professionals make adjustments and take over the fight. That’s what I’m going to do. I know he’s a former world champion looking to regain a title, but this time he signed up for the wrong guy. We always work hard and we’ve turned it up a notch since we found out who the opponent would be. I’m just excited. I’m ready to go today if I have to.’’
Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) is returning to the scene of his first world championship victory when he defeated then champion Bryan Vasquez by unanimous decision for the 130-pound title at Barclays Center on May 29, 2015. Fortuna lost the title to Jason Sosa by technical knockout in Beijing, China on June 24, 2016 in a fight Fortuna led on the scorecards. The 28-year-old southpaw who fights out of Braintree, Mass. by way of Dominican Republic, has won four straight since his lone loss to get in contention for a title at 135 pounds, including triumphs over then undefeated fighters Omar Douglas and Nicolas Polanco.
“I’m just very gracious, appreciative and honoured for the opportunity to fight for the world title again,’’ Fortuna said. “I feel really good about this fight. With God first I will be a world champion again. Easter is tall, active and he’s strong. But I feel like I’m stronger and I can punch much harder. Training is going smooth now, but the intensity will pick up as we get closer to the fight.”
Browne (20-0, 15 KOs) has put together back-to-back impressive knockout victories to continue his rapid rise up the highly competitive 175-pound division. The 27-year-old southpaw knocked out Thomas Williams, Jr. in Cincinnati on Feb. 18, and followed it up with another stunning knockout victory over then unbeaten Seanie Monaghan in Long Island on July 15. The 2012 U.S. Olympian will look to put himself in position for a world title fight with a convincing win on Jan. 20.
Ntetu (17-1, 4 KOs) was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but lives and trains out of Quebec, Canada. The veteran won his first 16 pro fights, including victories over experienced challengers Milton Nunez and Oscar Riojas. Ntetu previously fought at Barclays Center in June 2016 when he went toe-to-toe with current super middleweight world champion David Benavidez before eventually suffering the first loss of his career.
Kownacki (16-0, 13 KOs) has made steady progress up the heavyweight ladder, scoring knockout victories in his last three matches. The 28-year-old Kownacki will be fighting for the sixth time at Barclays Center in his hometown of Brooklyn. In his last fight he knocked out former world title challenger Artur Szpilka at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. on July 15 in a matchup of top Polish heavyweights.
Kiladze (26-1, 18 KOs) will be fighting for a second straight time at Barclays Center after the 31-year-old scored a TKO victory over Pedro Rodriguez in his last fight on Nov. 4 in the non-televised undercard of Wilder-Stiverne II. The only loss of his career came via knockout to Youri Kayembre Kalenga in Berlin, Germany in 2013 back when he was fighting at cruiserweight. Kiladze is unbeaten since campaigning at heavyweight full time and looks to mark his arrival on the division on January 20th.