- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Japan's Takashi Uchiyama holds a junior lightweight world title, but even though Javier Fortuna and Bryan Vasquez are fighting for the secondary version of that 130-pound belt, it is still a pick-'em fight on paper that could be quite interesting.
Fortuna and Vasquez meet on Friday night (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET) in the co-feature of the Premier Boxing Champions card headlined by the Amir Khan-Chris Algieri welterweight fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Fortuna-Vasquez was originally scheduled for May 23 in Boston on the James DeGale-Andre Dirrell undercard, but when Paulie Malignaggi suffered a cut and was forced to withdraw from his welterweight fight with Danny O’Connor, the originally scheduled Khan-Algieri co-feature, it was moved from one PBC card to another to fill the void.
Fortuna, a fast and flashy 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic, is happy to be fighting in New York, where he hopes the folks from the Dominican community turn out to see him.
"For me, it is an honor to be here in Brooklyn. This will be a great night for all of my fans,” Fortuna said at Wednesday’s final news conference.
Fortuna (27-0-1, 20 KOs) briefly held an interim featherweight belt, but it was stripped from him when he failed to make weight for an April 2013 defense. He then moved up to junior lightweight and four months later fought to a draw with Luis Franco, a former amateur standout from Cuba. Since that lone blemish on his record, Fortuna has won five fights in a row and has a prediction for how the fight with Vasquez will go.
"I hope my opponent doesn't have any excuses on Friday, because I'm going to knock him out,” Fortuna said. “Everyone here is going to see a great performance, and I can't wait to get in the ring. I'm a strong fighter, and I am looking forward to showing everyone what I am capable of."
He has a formidable opponent in Vasquez (34-1, 18 KOs), 27, of Costa Rica, a former interim titleholder whose lone loss was an eighth-round knockout to Uchiyama in Japan in December 2012. Vasquez has won five fights in a row since, including the interim belt for the second time.
His past two wins have come against quality opponents in Sergio Thompson, a ninth-round knockout in December -- although Vasquez missed weight and was stripped of the interim belt -- and a unanimous decision against then-unbeaten rising contender Jose Felix Jr. 13 months ago.
While Fortuna is very fast and a mover in the ring, Vasquez is more of a straight-ahead banger. He expects to make Fortuna fight his kind of fight.
“I look forward to a great fight. I promise it's going to be a war,” he said. “I'm an exciting fighter who always comes to fight. This is my time, and I will not disappoint. Fighting in New York is a great opportunity. I want people to see that Costa Rica has great fighters.
"I know I have a tough opponent, but he has never faced anyone like me. I'm going to give it my all, and I hope he does the same."