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HITS and MISSES: Javier Fortuna Shines and More

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  • HITS and MISSES: Javier Fortuna Shines and More

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    By Kelsey McCarson

    The boxing schedule continued during the penultimate week of November though there seemed a little less action over the weekend than prior weeks. Still, important contests took place featuring some of the top fighters in the sport.

    Here are the biggest HITS and MISSES from another week on the boxing beat.

    HIT: Future Fortunes of Javier Fortuna

    Perhaps it's just my affinity for southpaws, but Javier Fortuna looked sensational on Saturday night in the main event of an FS1 PBC Fight Night card.

    Fortuna, 31, from the Dominican Republic, is a legit threat in the 135-pound division. His sole loss since moving up to lightweight was a split-decision to former titleholder Robert Easter in a fight that could have been scored either way, and his athletic and unorthodox style will just about always make him a problem for anyone.

    alongside being tied to Al Haymon's PBC group, Fortuna is promoted by Sampson Lewkowicz, whose most famous recent client is probably former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. Like Martinez, Fortuna is the type of talent who could unexpectedly make some legitimate noise in his division during the latter part of his career.

    MISS: Austin Delay's Emotional Reactions to Accidental Headbutts

    Despite the two losses on his record, there's a lot to like about lightweight prospect Austin Dulay. The 25-year-old from Nashville defeated Jose Luis Gallegos in a 10-round decision in the co-feature of the PBC card on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

    Dulay's a sharp-fisted, crafty southpaw with fast hands and good feet. While his win over Gallegos absolutely proved he possesses some upside as a rising talent in the sport, his emotional responses to the three accidental headbutts in the fight gives his team plenty to work on with the fighter as he progresses.

    Referee Thomas Taylor did a great job explaining the key concept to him. "It happens," Taylor reminded Dulay at least twice in the fight after the clashes of heads. Indeed, it does happen, and that's especially true in southpaw vs. orthodox matchups.

    After the second headbutt in the fight, which happened in the sixth round, Dulay angrily gunned for the knockout. Everyone loves action like that, but reactive responses to innocuous events aren't on the path to the highest levels in the sport. Dulay needs to reel his emotions back in during those types of moments if he hopes to become a world champion.

    HIT: The Savagery of Alen Babic vs. Tom Little

    Hopefully, you've witnessed the majesty of Alen Babic by now. The 30-year-old from Croatia is the type of heavyweight you'd better enjoy now on the way up the ranks because, let's face it, Babic's style and skill set make him likely to be exposed as he climbs higher up the ladder.

    Until that time comes, though, Babic is must-see TV. The savagery of seeing a volume punching heavyweight who throws just about every single punch with serious emotional intent is a wonder to behold.

    For his part, Tom Little did his best to turn the Babic tide back. In fact, the 33-year-old was the first fighter to weather Babic's early storm and offer a return, but Babic ultimately dumped him down for the third-round knockout.

    By the way, that's faster than Daniel Dubois and Filip Hrgovic did it.

    MISS: Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Not Making Superfight Priority

    What shouldn't be lost in the Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence debate is how both fighters would rather fight Manny Pacquiao instead of each other.

    I had the chance to speak with both elite welterweight champions within the past week, and both men told me the same thing in regards to their focus on making one fight happen. Crawford wants Pacquiao next. Spence does, too.

    While it's completely understandable why these guys would seek the bigger payday against the legendary future Hall of Famer, something would seem to be broken in boxing overall when arguably the best and most important fight in the sport doesn't even seem to have a tiny chance of happening anytime soon.

    HIT: The Professional Amateur Conor Benn

    Imagine having just around 20 amateur bouts and trying to put together a world-level professional boxing career. Now, imagine also trying to follow in the footsteps of your father, himself a former world champion.

    But rising welterweight contender Conor Benn seems to be on his way to giving that run a serious go. Benn, 24, from England, defeated Germany’s Sebastian Formella in the main event of a Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN on Saturday.

    While Benn doesn't exactly have the look of a can't-miss prospect destined for greatness, he does at least possess some of the qualities that could lead him to the top of the sport. Certainly, Benn believes it.

    After beating Formella, Benn argued he'd done it just as good as two-time welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter had done.

    "I beat him just as good," Benn said during his post-fight interview.

    He wasn't wrong about that, and neither was his father, Nigel Benn, for lavishing praise on his son after his big win.

    "Well done, son. I'm proud of you," Nigel Benn said.

    Benn has a tough road ahead of him. He's basically been a professional amateur up to this point, a fighter getting paid professional money to employ an amateur skill set on fight night.

    But he's improving at a rate that suggests that might not be the case soon.

    Photo credit: Sean Michael Ham / TGB Promotions

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