|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - June 21, 2016|
Heading into his December bout with the well-regarded Nicholas Walters, Camden, NJ’s Jason Sosa was given no chance of winning and just a slightly better chance of being around to hear the final bell. However, Sosa surprised everyone that night when he left the ring with a 10-round majority draw against one of boxing’s top fighters.
The decision was disputed by many, but Sosa’s performance appeared to send the message that the little-known battler belonged in the conversation when it came to the best 130-pounders. However, backlash from that questionable decision (everyone had Walters ahead except the judges) has once again given Sosa the burden of proof to show that his sudden rise in the world rankings is not a fluke.
On Friday, Sosa, 18-1-4, 14 KOs, gets a chance to validate his new reputation when he takes on WBA champion Javier Fortuna, 29-0-1, 21 KOs, in a fight for the “regular” WBA championship at the Capital Gym in Beijing, China.
“This is every boxer’s dream, to fight for a world title,” Sosa said the day before leaving for Beijing. “This fight means everything, a once-in-a- lifetime shot. So, I got to go in there mentally prepared for everything. There’s a Plan B, a Plan C, and a D. I’m taking this trip all the way to China – 16 hours away – to capture the WBA title and bring it back home.”
Despite his excellent showing against Walters, Sosa’s title shot was a surprise.
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank God for this opportunity,” Sosa said. “But we knew we were going to get our shot. We signed with Russell Peltz. He makes things happen. He makes these big fights happen. It’s a blessing to be in his promotion, as well as Top Rank promotion. In the beginning of my career I was anxious. When am I going to be on a billboard? When am I going to be on TV? When am I going to fight for a title? And my trainer, Raul Rivas, said, ‘be patient, that day will come’. And that day is here. So I have to capitalize on that. I’d like to thank Fortuna’s team as well, because without their agreement, this fight wouldn’t have happened.”
Sosa has a tough assignment in Fortuna. Although not a household name, the Massachusetts-based, unbeaten southpaw from the Dominican Republic has been busy building his own fine reputation.
“He’s a skilled fighter,” Sosa said of his opponent. “A lot of people believe he’s one of the most exciting fighters in boxing today. I’m expecting a tough fight from Fortuna.”
Sosa will bring his non-stop, heavy handed style into the fight, an approach that should match up well and produce an entertaining clash with Fortuna, who is no shrinking violet himself.
“I’m a very active fighter,” Sosa said. “I love to fight. My favorite fighter was Arturo Gatti. I love to go to war if I have to. I can box if I want to, but I prefer a fun fight, a very exciting fight. I can do a little bit of everything. I have tremendous power in both hands and I’m very, very smart. So, for a guy that only had three amateur fights, I’ve come a long way. We’re working so hard and it doesn’t stop until the bell sounds. I’m looking for a great performance - sharp, quick. Everybody’s going to see a different Jason Sosa that night, a very exciting Jason Sosa, determined to go out to China and capture the WBA title.”
Although his draw with Walters snapped a 13-bout knockout streak by Sosa, the fight probably did more for him than any other fight he’s had.
“The Nicholas Walters fight really changed me as a fighter and as a person,” Sosa said. “Fighting Nicholas Walters really opened my eyes. It gave me the positive thinking that I do belong here with the top guys. I didn’t fight no ordinary guy. I fought a world class fighter, a world champion. A lot of people didn’t expect for me to be up here with just three amateur fights. But I’m here and I’m here today to capture that world title.”
Sosa’s trainer concurs.
“We had a great experience with Nicholas Walters,” Raul Rivas said. “That fight helped him to get to the level he’s at today mentally. Javier Fortuna is a very good fighter, very slick, tough, undefeated, world champion, but I do believe that Jason has fought the better competition. To me, that says a lot. I know he’s going to be very comfortable. He’s going into this fight believing that he’s the better fighter, and that is what we want as trainers - to be able to influence and instill that in our fighters.”
By all indication, Sosa got exactly what he needed out of training camp.
“This camp was really more of us mentally preparing ourselves,” Sosa said. “We’re physically ready. I’ve been putting the work in, day in, day out. Eating right, sleeping right. We’re ready, tip-top shape. It’s just been perfect. Perfect.”
“Camp has been outstanding,” Rivas said. “He has worked for the last five years extremely hard for this opportunity.”
“All the hard work is done,” Sosa said. “We’ve gotten the rounds in. We’ve gotten the sparring in. I’d like to thank (sparring partners) Orlando Cruz, Anthony Burgin, my brother Tevin Farmer. It’s a blessing to spar with him and all my family from the gym. Without them I wouldn’t be here today. It’s a blessing to have the team that we do.”
An interesting aspect of Sosa’s team is that his main sparring partner is fellow 130-pound rising star Tevin Farmer. Sosa calls him his brother, and claims there is no rivalry at all, serious nor friendly, between the two.
“We don’t have any rivalry,” Sosa said. “Honestly when I found out that I’d fight Fortuna, I was a little down because I would have loved to see Tevin Farmer and Javier Fortuna. He (Farmer) feels the same way that I feel. We’re the best 130 pounders in the world, and we’re excited. My time is now. His time should be soon. Everything here in the gym is very family oriented. We’re really together. So, it’s not business, then family. It’s family, then business. That’s how we roll.”
Traveling all the way to China is new for Team Sosa. They’ve fought in Puerto Rico a few times, but the rest of their fights have all been on the US East Coast.
“You know, I don’t like that the fight is so far away, but at this particular time we can’t pick and choose,” Rivas said. “It’s an opportunity. So we just got to capitalize on it and seize the moment, so we don’t have to go back to China. (If we win) we can stay in the states and defend the title. He’s coming in as the opponent, but we’re going to change that. After we bring that title home, we won’t be the opponent anymore.”
That’s the goal for every title challenger.
“This is the real deal,” Sosa said. “I feel comfortable. I feel like I belong here. I feel like I am the world champion, but you never know how a fight is going to turn out. This is boxing. It only takes one punch to end the fight. No prediction, but for me, it’s just being smart, patient, and going out there and doing what I do best. This is my opportunity. This belt means so much, not only for me but for a lot of people. It’s my turn, and I don’t want to let them down. I want to capture the title for so many reasons, and hopefully we come out victorious on June 24th.”
The Fortuna-Sosa fight will not be televised in the United States.