- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Javier Fortuna, due to make the first defense of his interim featherweight title against Miguel Zamudio, was stripped of the belt on Thursday for failing to make weight for his ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" main event at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
Fortuna weighed in at 127 pounds, one more than the featherweight division limit, on his first attempt. After leaving the scale for about 45 minutes, he returned at 126.6 pounds before calling it quits on attempting to make the weight. At that point Fortuna was stripped of the belt, but the fight will go on.
Zamudio, who weighed 125.4 pounds, will win the interim belt if he defeats Fortuna, but if Fortuna wins, it will remain vacant.
Fortuna will give up $1,000 of his purse to Zamudio (25-1-1, 13 KOs), 21, of Mexico, as part of the agreement to go forward with the fight.
"He went away for 45 minutes to try to make the weight, but he couldn't anymore," promoter Sampson Lewkowicz said. "He could have tried once more, but we had to make a rational decision. We still wanted the fight to go on, but he could not make it."
Lewkowicz's attributed Fortuna's weight issues to the fact he did not train with Pablo Sarmiento, his usual trainer, for this fight. Instead, Fortuna trained in his native Dominican Republic with Vicente De La Cruz.
"The trainer in the Dominican Republic has a totally different way of training and conditioning," Lewkowicz said. "He didn't do the job he is supposed to do. I blame the trainer 50 percent and the fighter 50 percent."
Normally, Fortuna would train with Sarmiento in Oxnard, Calif. However, Sarmiento is also the trainer for middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, who is preparing for an April 27 title defense against Martin Murray in Argentina. Martinez also usually trains in Oxnard, but for this fight Martinez is training in Spain to be close to the doctor who surgically repaired his knee last fall in the wake of the injury he suffered in his decision win against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in September.
With Sarmiento overseas, that left Fortuna (21-0, 15 KOs), a 24-year-old southpaw, to find a new trainer for the bout with Zamudio.
"It was the wrong training, the wrong environment," Lewkowicz said. "But he will continue to fight at featherweight after this fight. He will be back with Sarmiento after this fight."
Fortuna won the vacant belt by unanimous decision against Patrick Hyland in December in Las Vegas on the undercard of the fourth Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez bout.