Gary Russell Jr. finishes Gonzalez to win featherweight title, Kell Brook makes triumphant return after stabbing

March 29, 2015

Years ago, back when Gary Russell Jr. (26-1, 15 KOs) was making every publication's "Top Prospects" list, the boxing media at the time assumed that Russell's blazing hand speed and excellent boxing skills inevitably would bring him a world championship belt.

After coming close in 2014, the former amateur standout finally lived up to that vast potential everyone had first observed, knocking out defending champion Jhonny Gonzalez (57-9, 48 KOs) in impressive fashion Saturday night in the fourth round to capture the WBC featherweight title.

“This is the kind of performance I always expect but don’t always get," said Russell, who lost a close 12-round decision to Vasyl Lomachenko in his initial attempt at the 126-pound crown last June 21. “If people only knew how hard we worked for this, the time we put in the gym, the mental and physical things we work on and put ourselves through every day."

The talented Russell is a good boxer who will often stay for extended periods in harm's way in order to unleash his shots, and in this fight he stuck to those tendencies, exchanging with Gonzalez and utilizing his speed to dominate.

Russell dropped the veteran three times overall, once in the third, and twice in the fourth, before referee Tony Weeks waved off the fight 37 seconds into the round.

“Honestly, I don’t think he recovered from the first knockdown," said Russell.

Russell’s strategy was to eliminate Gonzalez’ vaunted left hook, and he executed the plan to near perfection.

“We were never in this to turn it into a track meet," Russell said. “We were going to stand right in the pocket. We know what Gonzalez likes to do, and that’s throw the wide left hook. I tried to bait him into throwing it and he did."

Gonzalez won the title on a shocking first-round knockout over Abner Mares in August 2013, and had made two more successful title defenses before falling to Russell.

“I’m OK," said a surprised Gonzalez. “I did not expect this kind of fight at all. We expected him to run around the ring with me chasing. But he didn’t."

Jermell Charlo defeats Vanes Martirosyan in contender eliminator

In the co-feature bout of the Russell-Gonzalez card, undefeated Jermell Charlo (26-0, 11 KOs) won a unanimous 10-round decision over local Glendale fighter Vanes Martirosyan (35-2-1, 21 KOs).  There were no knockdowns in the bout between the two top-five ranked super welterweights, as the judges scored it for Charlo, 97-93, 96-94, and 96-94.

“I definitely expected a much rougher fight,’’ said a surprised Charlo. “This was easy compared to what I thought we were in for."

Charlo silenced his critics by defeating his toughest opponent to date.

“I fought smart and when I was told to pick it up, I knew what time it was so I did," said Charlo. "I’m absolutely ready for a shot at a world title.’’

Martirosyan, who was cut over the left eye from an accidental headbutt in the eighth round, was disappointed with the result.

“I positively feel 100 percent that I won that fight,’’ he said. “I was the aggressor and forced the action. All he did was run. I landed the cleaner punches. I definitely felt I won the last round."

Martirosyan admitted the cut bothered him.

“I was stunned by the headbutt [that resulted in the bout being halted while he and the ringside physician discussed the cut]. Sure my left eye bothered me after that and it was blurry. But that’s no excuse.

The result clearly frustrated Martirosyan, who despite being a top contender for years, has not been able to get over the hump and climb to the top of his division.

“I felt I was hurting him," said Martirosyan.  "He never hurt me once. I really don’t understand this decision.’’

Kell Brook successfully defends belt in comeback bout from stabbing

One story that has inexplicably gone under the radar the past few months has been the stabbing attack perpetrated against welterweight champion Kell Brook (34-0, 23 KOs).

Although Brook fights in the sport's most high profile division and recently earned a huge upset victory over champion Shawn Porter this past summer, few fans know of him or of the horrifying incident he suffered while vacationing on the island of Tenerife after the Porter fight.

During his vacation, Brook allegedly was ambushed, without any provocation, by a knife-wielding man he had been drinking with him at a bar earlier in the evening.  In the attack, Brook sustained significant injuries to his thigh, causing him to undergo a lengthy rehabilitation process.

On Saturday, in his hometown of Sheffield, England, the undefeated IBF welterweight champion, returned to the ring for the first time since the attack.  In his first title defense since taking the belt from Porter, Brook overwhelmed mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan (34-3, 18 KOs), dropping him four times before the one-sided beatdown was wisely halted after the fourth round.  It was Dan's first knockout defeat of his career.

“I’m back, baby,” said Brook, whose performance against Dan electrified his fans while paving the way for a major showdown in the future.

The exciting welterweight showed no ill effects from the layoff, registering two knockdowns in the second round, and two more in the fourth, with the final knockdown coming at the closing bell.

“It was truly amazing to walk out in front of all my fans," said Brook.  "I didn't think I would ever walk again, much less box again. Here I am filling arenas. I can't put into words how much it means to be back and defending a world title. It means everything to me."

Brook also addressed the obvious question on everyone's mind.

“The leg feels fine," said Brook.  "The leg feels as good as the other leg. There is no problem with the leg."

He then made sure to call out his preferred next opponent.

“If you're watching Amir Khan, then get in here with me," said Brook.  "I know you're delicate around the whiskers. I’ll take you out.’’

By Staff of and news services

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...