Undefeated IBF Lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. is set to warm up L.A. for new Laker LeBron James
Many fans throughout the sports world felt the aftershocks following the Klutch Sports announcement that LeBron James’ was headed west to join the Los Angeles Lakers. James’ signing to the Lakers undoubtedly hurt the hearts of some Ohioans as he departs from northeast Ohio for the second time in his illustrious career, but the immediate future of L.A.’s premier basketball team couldn’t be any brighter. The Staples Center welcomes James as the man from Akron ushers in a new version of Showtime.
A champion, from Ohio, headed for L.A.
Staples Center, too.
In late July, IBF Lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. (21-0, 14 KOs) will head west, to the City of Angels, from his hometown of Toledo in northwest Ohio to challenge WBC Lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs). The fight – a highly anticipated 135-pound unification bout – airs July 28 on Showtime from Staples Center.
Some time after hearing of James’ signing with the Lakers, Easter Jr. took to his Instagram account to salute the three-time champion small forward on his monumental move to one of the NBA’s most storied franchises. In addition to Easter’s salute to James, his post also serves as a message to his fans that his hand will be raised in victory at the fight’s conclusion.
Similar to the matchup problems James has presented opposing teams with throughout his transcendent 15-year career, the undefeated Easter is a challenging matchup for other Lightweights. He’s long, standing just under 6-feet tall, and his 14 KOs is indicative of his power. Even more like James, in order to achieve a goal that’s eluded him the past 18 months – a unification bout – Easter elected to take his training camp preparations to Florida. This fight marks Easter’s first outing with Kevin Cunningham acting as his lead trainer – in place of his father Robert Sr.
Come July 28 Easter steps into the ring against his most formidable opponent in four-division champion Garcia. The question then becomes will the Easter-Cunningham pairing have a James-Spoelstra outcome, in their first Finals run together? A six game series the Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks.
Or, will the outcome be like James’ first run to a championship with Tyronn Lue at the helm? A riveting seven game series in which James led the Cleveland Cavaliers back from a 1-3 deficit versus the 73-win Golden State Warriors.
Undoubtedly, a crucial detail of Cunningham’s game plan for the fight will be for Easter to avoid setting up the need for those kind of dramatics. As there aren’t any travel days in the middle of a championship bout.
All photos by Amanda Westcott/Showtime