Justin Fortune
Justin says Mikey for Manny makes sense
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Los Angeles gym owner and strength/conditioning coach Justin Fortune said yesterday once the coronavirus crisis is over, he expects Mikey Garcia to emerge as super WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s next challenger because “it’s the only fight that makes any sense.”

Garcia, 32, is fresh from scoring a win over Pacquiao victim Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision in Texas last February and has called out the Filipino for a showdown. He’s a former WBO featherweight, WBO superfeatherweight, WBC lightweight and IBF superlightweight champion with a record of 40-1, with 30 KOs.

“I think it’ll be an entertaining fight as long as it lasts,” said Fortune who began working with Pacquiao in 2003. “This will be Mikey’s chance to cash in. Everybody wants to fight Manny because of the payday. Mikey works hard and will give a good fight but Manny’s stronger and faster. It’ll be done in six or seven rounds. The way I see it, Manny can go back-to-back and still fight twice this year. Everything depends on the coronavirus. If boxing is back to normal by the end of June or in July, Manny can fight Mikey first then another challenger by December. Manny will be 42 by the end of this year. He can sit back and relax but knowing Manny, he’s got a lot of fight left in him.”

Fortune said he’s excited to work with Filipino featherweight contender Mark Magsayo who recently signed a contract with MP Promotions. Magsayo will leave for Los Angeles as soon as the pandemic is put under control. He will train with Freddie Roach and Fortune. “I’ve never met him but I’ve seen him with Freddie at Wild Card before,” said Fortune. “I’ve heard good things about him, that he’s strong, determined and heavy-handed.” Fortune said he’s familiar with Chris Avalos who knocked down Magsayo in the third round but was stopped in the sixth in a Cebu brawl in 2016.

Fortune said the coronavirus crisis is taking a heavy toll on the US economy. “I think 40 percent of Los Angeles restaurants will go bankrupt and imagine the people who will lose jobs,” he said. “This is destroying the economy.  Gyms aren’t allowed to open and they’ll probably be the last to reopen.”

Fortune said the lockdown has meant adjusting training schedules for boxers with postponed fights. An example is WBO bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero whose triple unification duel with Naoya Inoue in Las Vegas on April 25 has been postponed indefinitely. “Casimero’s got to be careful not to burn out,” said Fortune. “He’ll need to adjust and slow down to train maybe, three or four days in a week. He should stay about 60 percent in shape then once the new fight date is confirmed, he’ll work to 100 percent in three to four weeks.”

Fortune said anything can happen in the fight. “Inoue’s tough and very talented but Casimero’s a real warrior, going around the world, winning and not afraid to fight anyone, anywhere,” he said. “(Nonito) Donaire beat up Inoue bad in their fight (last November) and it remains to be seen if Inoue has recovered completely. Inoue might not be the same anymore, he could get gun-shy. People think Donaire’s past his prime but look at what he did to Inoue. This fight could go either way.”

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