Gary Russell Jr. earns redemption; Charlo beats Martirosyan

Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime

Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime


The WBC featherweight title found a new home around the waist of Gary Russell Jr. after he beat Jhonny Gonzalez by way of technical knockout in the fourth round. The fight was the main event of a DiBella Entertainment card held at the Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nev. and broadcast on Showtime.


Showing off his tremendous hand speed to start the bout, Russell disrupted any attack from Gonzalez by utilizing his jab and putting together fluid combinations. It wasn’t much of a surprise that Gonzalez was tentative to start; he and everyone watching knew his one-punch knockout capabilities were just waiting for an opportunity to be unraveled.


Just when it looked like Gonzalez was starting to become more comfortable and he might show flashes of his eraser of a left hook, Russell knocked Gonzalez down toward the end of the third round from a clean left hand/right hook combination. Gonzalez was clearly hurt from the combo that sent him falling forward as his gloves held him up from ultimately flat to the canvas. Luckily for him, the bell sounded signaling the end of the round after he withstood the count.


Gonzalez never seemed to recover and, 20 seconds into the fourth; he fell to the floor again after no punch from a Russell barrage seemed to have turly connected. Ten seconds later, Russell smelled blood and kept the pressure up, forcing Gonzalez down for a third time. That’s when referee Tony Weeks immediately waved off the contest.


It’s been a long time coming for Russell, 26-1 (15), a heralded prospect for years and the subject of criticism for his snail-like pace of matchmaking. Regardless, he looked fantastic in his second shot at a world title. In his last outing, reality struck for Russell after he was beaten for the vacant WBO strap by Vasyl Lomachenko.


“Certainly, we’re definitely trying to get Lomachenko once again.” Russell claimed after Showtime reporter Jim Gray brought it up in the post-fight interview. Options are aplenty in a deep 126-pound division and now, Russell must go through the gauntlet of viable contenders and champions alike going forward.


Gonzalez, 57-9 (48), loses only the second fight in his past 19 efforts. The 33-year old Mexican’s career now winds down after he resuscitated it when he knocked Abner Mares out in the first round almost two years ago. His age may have finally caught up with him  on Saturday  night but it doesn’t hide the fact he has had a great boxing career.



Charlo decisions Martirosyan


Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime

Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime

The Showtime broadcast started off with 24-year old junior middleweight prospect Jermell Charlo outpointing veteran Vanes Martirosyan in a close, 10-round contest via unanimous decision. Official ringside judges Lisa Giampa and Dave Moretti both scored the bout 96-94, while Adalaide Byrd had it 97-93.


It was a technical chess match for the two foes who weren’t too friendly in the days leading up to the bout but was an example of good matchmaking. Although it wasn’t a fight with constant action, it was a clean one with both fighters exchanging and neither forcing the clinch. Charlo would snap off the cleaner punches while Martirosyan forced the action, making for close rounds to score throughout the entire fight.


One aspect that didn’t favor Martirosyan was that the fight was fought mostly on the outside. It gave Charlo, who was the much better athlete, a slight edge by being able to elude his opponent’s attack. It seemed like whenever either fighter landed a flush punch, the other would answer in similar fashion. One thing Martirosyan did better than Charlo was be more effective in his attack to the body but it wasn’t enough to erase the accurate punching from Jermell.


In the eighth round, an accidental headbutt disrupted the action while Vanes was attended to by the ringside doctor after a cut was developed over his left eye. Although he clearly had trouble seeing , Vanes never let up and showed toughness continuing on through the adversity. However, it wasn’t enough in the eyes of the judges, but perhaps those statistics may have shown the closest, as Charlo’s 92 total punches landed outweighed Martirosyan’s 79.


Charlo, 26-0 (11), stays undefeated, and gets a nice test that can be served as a reference before he gets his first shot at a world title. It’s something that has eluded him so far, as two fights which he was slated to fight for a belt were abruptly canceled. Martirosyan, 35-2-1 (21), needed this win to get another crack at a world title and had a case to win  Saturday night but his spirited effort wasn’t enough to convince the judges otherwise.



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