Dominican boxers

Javier Fortuna (right) is a feared puncher but is stepping up in class vs. Bryan Vasquez. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Javier Fortuna has been regarded as one of the biggest punching prospects in the sport for a while. Now it’s time to prove it.

“El Abejon” fights for his first world title when he meets Bryan Vasquez on Friday (Spike, 9 p.m. ET) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the vacant WBA junior lightweight belt, another edition of Premier Boxing Champions.

“I would just be super ecstatic if I won … and I feel like I would be one of the best champions ever from the Dominican Republic, ” Fortuna told USA TODAY Sports through promoter Nathan Lewkowicz on Wednesday. “If I actually did knock him out in spectacular fashion it would be great for my career, it would be great for my next fight in terms of getting my popularity up there.

“I’m not gunning for the knockout, I’m gunning for the victory, but if the knockout does happen obviously it would be great for me.”

Fortuna (27-0-1, 20 KOs) was rising quickly up the ranks when he suffered a setback in the form of a draw vs. Luis Franco in 2012. Franco was coming off a loss, making the draw even more disappointing.

The 25-year-old bounced back, though, and impressed with a devastating KO of Abner Cotto (second cousin of star boxer Miguel) last year on Showtime, He now moves onto the best opponent of his young career. Vasquez challenged for a title once, losing to Japan’s Takashi Uchiyama, the best 130-pounder in the world. And Vasquez has faced better opposition than Fortuna, a bona fide top-10 contender.

If Fortuna can fulfill his vast promise in his most high-profile bout to date, he’s ready for the biggest matchups the sport has to offer.

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