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18 SEPTEMBER 2018

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Russell Masterful Against Diaz


All pics Amanda Westcott/Showtime
All pics Amanda Westcott/Showtime

By Marc Livitz

Gary Russell, Jr. used a full thirty-six minutes of output and movement on Saturday night to get past Joseph Diaz, Jr. at the MGM National Harbor casino hotel in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

 

Less than three months ago, it was 2012 US Olympian Diaz who openly called out Russell for a shot at his first world title after a third round knockout victory over Victor Terrazas on ESPN. With the only blemish on his nine year professional career coming four years ago at the hands of Vasyl Lomachenko, Capitol Heights, Maryland native “Mr.” Russell, Jr. received a hometown welcome as he made his way to the ring. His performance on Saturday would undoubtedly either strengthen or downplay the criticism he’s received for fighting just four times in as many years. His efforts were superb as he handed Diaz the first loss of his time in the pro ranks.

The two southpaw fighters began the contest with Russell (29-1, 17 KO’s) being the clear aggressor by way of his right jab, thrown high and low. Wearing gold and black, Gary continued to snap his jab and dictate the pace early. He came out firing from the very instant the second round commenced. Jabs and short hooks were thrown fast and accurately. Diaz (26-1, 14 KO’s) was able to find a bit of success as he looked to force the action inside and hook around the guard of his Maryland opponent. He connected with rights to the body and lefts to the head. What may have looked as a one-sided affair early on had turned into a more even contest, at least through two periods. Gary’s activity levels continued to remain the higher of the two boxers as the third was underway. His right jab was often followed by a left hook to the head. Joseph landed a few hard body shots.

 

Diaz found success with a well placed body punch midway through round four. Russell looked to keep his distance and not allow his South El Monte, California foe to get closer. A flurry of quick punches from Gary stopped “JoJo” in his tracks just before the bell. It was as though “Mr.” Gary was aware of what Joseph was looking for and attempted to keep him away. The jabbing continued as Diaz put great effort into connecting with combinations. The early moments of the sixth saw Gary do much of the same as Diaz kept the chase going in an effort to minimize any possible escape routes. He connected with more shots to the rib area, yet may have been expending as much energy tracking Russell as he did punching at him. Gary moved well in the seventh. He stayed away from the ropes and looked to rely on his jabs. He began the following round with hard right hooks. Diaz scored with punches to the face of Russell, but his overall output wasn’t the type that often influences judges.

 

The bout’s second half was controlled early by the speed of Gary Russell. In the opening moments as well as throughout much of the ninth, he popped his jab as well as he’d done in the first and looked to be a step ahead of Diaz. He moved, fired and put more and more together. The ‘championship’ rounds kicked off with the usual high levels of offensive output from Gary Russell. For a few seconds, Joseph was able to force him into a corner and score with body punches. Otherwise, Gary was in control, though he knew Diaz was still a very dangerous opponent. Perhaps the contest’s longest episode of fighting in the center of the ring surfaced in round eleven. Shots were traded, after which Russell circled away from “JoJo” with his jab continuing to tell the story.

 

 






On the contest would go to the twelfth and final three minutes. They exchanged a quick embrace and off they went. Diaz tried to rough up Gary a bit as he was most certainly looking for the one shot to end the night in his favor. Referee Kenny Chevalier was able to take much of the bout off and didn’t have to involve himself to any extent. Another jovial hug took place after the bell sounded to end the entertaining contest. The judges would decide the winner, though Russell appeared to win anywhere from eight to nine rounds.

 

Dave Braslow scored the contest 115-113, while Dave Moretti and Nathan Palmer saw it at 117-111 to award the victory as well as successful defense of his WBC featherweight championship to “Mr.” Gary Russell, Jr.

 

Additional Results from Oxon Hill
Immanuwel Aleem KO 6 Juan De Angel - Super Middleweight
Gary A. Russell KO 1 Wilmer Rodriguez - Super Lightweight
Antonio Russell TKO 5 Jonathan Ramos - Bantamweight
Cobia Breedy UD 6 Christopher Martin - Super Featherweight
Brandon Quarles TKO 5 Fidel Munoz - Middleweight
Reuben Simmons KO 1 Aaron Davis - Cruiserweight



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