Super fast Gary Russell Jr. dominates tough Kiko Martinez
By Marc Livitz
Gary Russell, Jr. outfoxed, outboxed and easily got past Kiko Martinez at the Barclays Center Brooklyn on Saturday evening in the co-main event ahead of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s title defense against Dominic Breazeale.
A cut which opened as the result of a right uppercut from the WBC world featherweight champion during the early moments of the contest proved to be the tipping point in the final seconds of of round five.
Southpaw Russell, Jr. (30-1, 18 KO’s) snapped his right jab with sure fire precision from the opening bell as his Spanish opponent pressed inward and looked to land his power hand. Gary scored just before the round’s end with a nice right hook to the head. Kiko answered with a right hook of his own just as the second was underway, yet it would be to little avail. The champion from Maryland connected with quick combinations up high and used the remaining minute of the round to utilize his jab and as well as effectively counter Kiko’s offense with a fast left hook.
“Mr.” Russell came out firing in the third, as he found more success with his combination shots before he returned to his jab. Although Martinez (39-9-2, 28 KO’s) held his guard high and tight, his tendency to lean inward left his head in place as a prime target. He did, however get Gary’s attention with a few body shots to close the period. At some point, Gary was able to open a small cut over the right eye of the Spanish challenger.
The two men entered the phone booth early in round four, although it was clearly the champion who held the upper hand. Gary easily landed three to four punches for each attempt Martinez made and he continued to move around the ring afterwards. War-weathered Kiko kept moving forward and into the chest of Russell, who himself was able to stay clear of any potential damage by way of his short right uppercut.
Kiko was certainly no stranger to big moments in the ring, as he has to his credit nights inside the ropes with such names as Leo Santa Cruz, Scott Quigg, Carl Frampton and Josh Warrington. Russell remained poised against the ongoing pressure of the game Martinez throughout round five and remained clear, much in part thanks to his repetitive shots to the head. With fewer than ten seconds to spare, referee Ricky Gonzalez petitioned the corner of Martinez to look at the cut above his right eye, after which the ringside physician stopped the contest.
The time of the stoppage was 2:52 mark of round five.
“I did pretty good and I stayed behind the jab,” said the victorious champion. “We want to make the fight with Leo Santa Cruz happen. The fire is on this side of the field and you will get burned. If we can’t get that fight, then I’ll immediately vacate my title and challenge (Miguel) Berchelt.”
Additional Results from Brooklyn
Juan Heraldez D 10 Argenis Mendez - Super Lightweight
Gary Antonio Russell TKO 6 Saul Hernandez - Bantamweight
Gary Antuanne Russell KO 4 Marcos Mojica - Super Lightweight
Robert Alfonso D 8 Iago Kiladze - Heavyweight
Richardson Hutchins TKO 3 Alejandro Munera - Welterweight