This week's version of The Daily Sports Herald's Boxing Notebook takes a look at Gary Russell's recent win, as well the war between Jesus Soto Karass and Yoshihiro Kamegai. Check out the latest news in the sweet science:
Russell defeats Hyland by TKO
WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. retained his title with a remarkable TKO of Irishman Patrick Hyland Saturday from Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn.
“We stuck to the game plan. We stayed sharp,” said Russell Jr., who improves his record to 27 wins, one loss, 15 knockouts.
A relentless Russell brought the main event to a quick halt with his superior talent by registering three knockdowns in the second round, the last of which forced referee Danny Schiavone to end the contest at 1:33.
From the first bell, the Washington, D.C. native came out swinging with his trademark hand speed and dangerous power. Russell, a southpaw, successfully broke down—and knocked out—Hyland with multiple vicious right hooks.
|Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME|
“I’m ready to fight anyone in the division – Santa Cruz, Lee Selby," said Russell. "We are ready. But what I really want is [Vasyl] Lomachenko. I don’t care if he moves up to 147 pounds. I will go anywhere to get that fight.”
Russell's performance impressed observers at ringside.
“There aren’t many fighters who you instantly know are special,” said Showtime analyst Steve Farhood. “The combination of Gary Russell’s hand speed and accuracy instantly shows us that he’s special. That was plainly evident tonight and at times his hand speed was frightening.”
In the co-feature, Jose Pedraza defended his IBF Junior Lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Stephen Smith.
“This definitely was a tough fight but the training really came to advantage in this fight,” Pedraza told Showtime reporter Jim Gray. “I knew he was a tough fighter so I was always aware.”
Pedraza (22-0, 12 KOs) remained disciplined and came out victorious during his second IBF 130-pound world title defense. A combination of timing, hand speed, and good defense allowed the Puerto Rican native to dominate the 12-round championship fight.
“I had better focus tonight. I had a better training camp,” said Pedraza, referring to his controversial split decision win over Edner Cherry two fights ago. “I knew that Stephen Smith was a great fighter and even after the knockdown, we were very cautious not to rush in.”
Pedraza was the more accurate fighter, landing 50 percent of his power punches over the 12-round bout. The Sniper was able to pick his spots and pocket rounds once he figured out the distance. Smith had his moments, but wasn’t active enough.
“Pedraza won tonight with different weapons. Mostly right hands to the head,” said Farhood. “I had the fight even after eight rounds and once Pedraza dropped Smith in the ninth, he gained momentum that he never lost and he pulled away. It was an impressive performance but also an important one because it erased a lot of the negative criticism Pedraza received in his controversial win over Edner Cherry.”
Soto Karass and Kamegai fight to a draw
Former WBC Continental Americas and former NABF Welterweight Champion Jesus Soto Karass (29-10-4, 18 KO) battled Japan's former OPBF Welterweight Champion Yoshihiro Kamegai (26-4-2, 23 KO) to a draw in a spectacular 10-round super welterweight bout at Golden Boy Promotions' LA Fight Club held at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
|Photo Credit: Golden Boy Promotions|
"This fight was a war, exactly what the fans expected," said Jesus Soto Karass. "The people truly won tonight. I felt really good in the ring, but Kamegai was a true, Japanese warrior. I feel we both delivered an exciting night of boxing."
The two fighters refused to give the other the upper hand and battled it out until the end, exchanging power shots, jabs, and combinations. The judges scored the bout 97-93 to Kamegai, 96-94 to Soto Karass, and 95-95 even.
"I'm still getting used to the time zone here, but I feel really good about my performance tonight," said Kamegai. "Soto Karass did catch me a few times, but every time he did, he was met with my counterpunches. Soto Karass was the kind of fighter I was expecting to fight - a true warrior."
In addition, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (16-0, 13 KOs) of Los Angeles, added another knockout under his belt tonight with his epic takedown of Chicago's Derrick Findley (23-19-1, 15 KOs) in the eight-round cruiserweight co-main event match-up. From the beginning of the first round, Slava delivered swift blows to Findley's chest and by the second round, Shabranskyy had his opponent cornered. Findley could only fend off "Lion Heart-Chigonsky" with his blocks for so long, as Shabranskyy boxed around his opponent and executed power punches securing him a third round knockout victory.
"I have the best teams and the best fans. I'm so happy Los Angeles has welcomed me to in to their familia," said Shabranskyy of his victory. "In the ring, I've learned to become more patient, waiting for my opponent, but I'm also ready to pounce for an attack. I embrace my "chingonsky" and I'm looking forward to training hard to give my fans more shows."
Starting off his professional career with a knockout victory, Genaro Gamez, (1-0, 1 KO) took on Archie Weah (1-6) of Norcross, Georgia in an impressive professional debut. The fight began with fire, as both fighters pounced to get their win. However, Weah could not keep up with Gamez's speed and hard punches, landing a series of punching combinations that put a stop to Weah in the first round.
"I made sure to start the fight slow so I could figure out Weah," said Gamez. "Once I was aware of Weah's style I proceeded to take control of the fight and I am glad I was able to stop him early. I feel excited about this victory as my professional debut and look forward to the next fight."
Erislandy Lara to fight Vanes Martirosyan in rematch on May 21
The 154-pound division will take center stage on Saturday, May 21 in a stacked triple-header featuring three world title fights in the same division. Five of the division’s top-six fighters* will square off live on Showtime from The Chelsea, a one-of-a-kind 40,000-square-foot venue, inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
In the main event, Cuban sensation Erislandy Lara will defend his WBA Super Welterweight World Championship against U.S. Olympian and top contender, Vanes Martirosyan, in a rematch of their 2012 bout that ended in a technical draw.
“I’m looking forward and I’m excited to be making my 2016 debut in the boxing capitol of Las Vegas come May 21,” said Lara. “I can’t wait to get in the ring as I have unfinished business to take care of with Vanes. I’m the champion and will remain the champion. I will leave no doubt who the better fighter is and will show the world that I’m the best fighter in the 154-pound division. I am dedicating this fight to a great man and boxing idol Gilberto Mendoza Sr. May he rest in peace and enjoy this display of master boxing from heaven, that I will put on for him when I step in the ring on fight night.”
The 32-year-old Lara is a slick boxer with the ability to deliver punishment while taking very little of it in return. Lara has notched victories over Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Ishe Smith and Freddy Hernandez. As an amateur, Lara won numerous titles including a national championship at welterweight, and also participated in the 2007 Pan-Am games. The fighter originally from Guantanamo, Cuba dominated Delvin Rodriguez in June of last year and followed that up with a third-round stoppage of former champion Jan Zaveck.
Martirosyan, of course, sees the fight differently.
“Erislandy Lara and I have unfinished business from our first fight,” said Martirosyan. “I had him beat that night and I’ll beat him on May 21. My time is now and I know I will be the new champion of the world on May 21.”
Martirosyan represented the U.S. at the 2004 Olympics. As a professional, he won his first 32 fights before fighting Lara to a draw in 2012. The 29-year-old suffered a narrow defeat by split decision in his first world title shot against Demetrius Andrade, but has rebounded with solid victories over Mario Lozano, Willie Nelson and most recently Ishe Smith.
Brothers Jermall and Jermell Charlo will look to make history in co-featured bouts as the first twins to hold world titles in the same division.
Unbeaten IBF Super Welterweight World Champion Jermall Charlo faces his toughest test to date when he makes the second defense of his belt against former world champion Austin Trout.
“I’m extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to fight for the world title on May 21,” said Trout. “It’s a twice-in-a-lifetime chance for a second world title and I’m going to take full advantage of it. I’m working hard and have already been in training camp in D.C. and ready to take full advantage of the moment. I’ve sat at the champions’ table before and am ready to go back again and eat from it again. Destiny brought me here not to lose, but to win. I’m going to show up and show out and this world title.”
Jermell Charlo will take on exciting contender John Jackson in a bout for the vacant WBC Super Welterweight World Championship.
The 25-year-old Charlos' aim to make history against stiff opposition from a former champion in Trout, and the Olympian from the Virgin Islands in Jackson.
“This will be a history-making, record-breaking night for the Charlo twins,” said Jermall Charlo. “It means everything to us to be able to fight in two championship fights on the same card. This is everything we’ve ever dreamed of. This is going to be a great night of boxing and I’m preparing myself for war. Austin Trout is a seasoned vet. He’s fought world champions and has beaten future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto. This is one of my biggest fights to date, but I’m preparing the same way I always do. I’m going to be on my ‘A’ game. I’m ready to make history.”
His brother echoed similar thoughts.
"This is a huge fight for me," said Jermell Charlo. "It's my first opportunity to fight for a title and my brother is on the same card defending his belt. There has never been identical twin brothers that are both world champions in the same weight class. We're going to go out there and make history, and send a message to the whole division. I'm excited to get in the ring and I know John Jackson is too. This is an important time in my career and I will be well prepared. Let the best man win."
Austin Trout talks about Charlo bout
Austin Trout (30-2, 17 KOs), the former super welterweight world champion, is ready to collect his second world title on Saturday, May 21 when he meets IBF Junior Middleweight world champion Jermall Charlo in a 12-round match live from The Chelsea, a one-of-a-kind 40,000-square-foot venue inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
“It’s my time,” said Trout. “My focus is amplified 10-fold. I’m the confident, happy Austin that fans know, but trust me, when it’s fight time I’m ready for any dogfight that comes. You’ll see Austin bring out and defeat the ‘Lion’ in him because at the end of the day I’m taking that belt.”
Born in El Paso, Texas and raised in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Trout is trained by Barry Hunter and Louie Burke of Headbangers Gym in Washington D.C. Having started boxing at the age of 10, his natural talent and the ability to grow into the sport took Austin across the United States and Latin America in the amateur divisions and then into the pros. Known as one of the fiercest gentlemen competitors in the sport, he beat the likes of Miguel Cotto, Rigoberto Alvarez and Delvin Rodriguez, before losing his title to Canelo Alvarez.
Trout comes into May 21 looking to claim a title in a division he’s been a true threat within for his career. Below is a Q and A from his training camp:
Q: You’ve said you’ve been led to this fight, why is it important?
A: “Coming off of four consecutive wins, I’m not just on a comeback streak but I’m taking a full step forward. Charlo is the champ, this fight is about no more half stepping. It’s about taking on the best. Isn’t that what it’s about, being the best?”
Q: How is camp going?
A: “I physically feel great. I’m really comfortable with Barry, it’s my fourth camp with the Headbangers team; Luis is there as well. Luis helps me with pre-camp and then I shift to D.C.
“I was already in D.C. getting camp started when the rumors about this fight came true. I had been at the gym at home for pre-camp for a month and a half before hitting D.C. I was working out five times a week, running every day just getting the program going. As I said, no half-stepping. I’m already sparring, doing the work, getting right. I’m not walking through it but running and trotting through it. I’m 30, I’m at my physical peak, my talent couldn’t be any better.”
Q: Talk about the fight and what to expect?
A: “Neither one of us is going out without a fight, so I don’t see this being a boring fight. It’s time for people to remember me. I’ve earned this championship shot against an undefeated bull like Jermall Charlo but I will take his belt. “
Q: Your first professional loss was against Canelo Alvarez in San Antonio in 2013. What are your thoughts on that fight?
A: “I had a good, competitive fight with Saul – it felt like a unification bout – I was WBA champion and he was WBC champion. The open scoring was more detrimental to my game plan. During the fight when I was told that I wasn’t winning on anyone’s cards I had to change my game plan. It was a dogfight. Canelo never had to box and move that much before in a fight.
“But, live and learn. Instead of walking into a fight like that I listened to those around me. No more surprises. This Charlo fight is a fight I want, a fight my team wants and we’re ready. I’m a more mature, focused champion who’s coming back. I’m dangerous – I have experience, talent and God on my side.”
Provodnikov, Molina set to battle
Former junior welterweight world champion Ruslan Provodnikov and former world title challenger John Molina Jr. will meet in a June 11 all-action bout on Showtime at the Turning Stone Casino. Below are their thoughts on the bout:
“As soon as I heard the name John Molina, I jumped on it. Molina fights with the type of style that people want to see. He brings the action."
“I think our styles are going to clash. The reason people love this is because it’s unpredictable. Nobody knows what’s going to happen on June 11. Nobody can even predict which way it’s going to go. We’re both punchers, we both go forward, we both fight in a risky style. I think that’s going to make this fight a fight that everybody should watch."
JOHN MOLINA JR.
“We’re never say die fighters. We come forward. It’s literally like two trains that are going to collide. It’s a can’t miss fight."
“I have to prepare for someone that has a never say die attitude. He’s like a virus that will never go away. He’s a hell of a fighter – he has a big heart and a big will. It’s tough to beat a guy that wants to win."
“We’re going to give the fans a treat, a Gatti-Ward type fight. I expect nothing less. We can have a phone booth, we don’t need a big ring."
Andrade to face Nelson on June 11
The winner of the 12-round co-feature will become the mandatory challenger to the winner of the May 21 showdown between Jermell Charlo and John Jackson, who face off for the vacant WBC 154-pound title.
Andrade versus Nelson will serve as the chief support to the all-action matchup between former junior middleweight world champion Ruslan Provodnikov and former world title challenger John Molina Jr., from Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.
“Willie Nelson, he’s going to come in and he’s going to try and throw those power shots," said Andrade. "He’s going to try to stomp me down and make a statement, but I’ve been doing this for too long. I’m just ready to be where I need to be, where I deserve to be, and that’s on the top."
Fighting out of his native Providence, R.I., the 28-year-old Andrade has compiled an unblemished record of 22-0 with 15 knockouts since turning professional in 2008 after representing the United States in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
A crafty southpaw with a piston-like jab and knockout power in each hand, Andrade won the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight World Championship with a career-best performance over Vanes Martirosyan on November 9, 2013, and successfully defended the title against No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger Brian Rose on June 14, 2014. Most recently Andrade, who is a consensus top-5 super welterweight, scored a second-round knockout over Dario Fabian Pucheta on October 17, 2015.
A true road warrior who is extremely tall for a junior middleweight at 6-foot-3, Nelson (25-2-1, 15 KO’s) has faced and defeated numerous top contenders over his 10-year career. Fighting only once in 2015, the Cleveland native upset highly regarded and undefeated junior middleweight prospect Tony Harrison with a ninth-round knockout on July 11 in Tampa, Florida. In his first start of 2016, Nelson stopped Jonathan Batista in the second round on March 25.
Other notable names the all-action Nelson has defeated include John Jackson, Luciano Cuello, Michael Medina and Yudel Jackson. On October 14, 2014, Nelson came up just short against Martirosyan, losing a hotly contested 10-round decision.
In the opening bout of the tripleheader during International Boxing Hall of Fame weekend, WBC No. 1-ranked lightweight Dejan Zlaticanin will take on No. 2-ranked Emiliano Marsili for the vacant WBC Lightweight World Championship.
The southpaw Zlaticanin (17-0, 10 KOs) was an accomplished amateur in Eastern Europe before making a statement in his U.S. debut with an impressive fourth-round TKO of previously undefeated Ivan Redkach in a 135-pound title eliminator last June 13.
Two bouts prior to the win over Redkach, Dejan (pronounced “DAY-han) Zlaticanin (silent “z” – pronounced “la-ti-CAH-nin) earned a well-deserved 12-round split decision over hometown favorite and former two-division world champion Ricky Burns in 2014.
The 31-year-old Zlaticanin is an offensive-minded fighter who constantly pressures his opponents, outworks them and wears them down. Zlaticanin, of the Southeastern European country of Montenegro, will be making his first start in nearly 12 months.
The win over Redkach last June earned Redkach the WBC’s mandatory position at 135 pounds. He was scheduled to face WBC Champion Jorge Linares in early 2016, but Linares pulled out of the bout with a broken hand. Due to the injury, the WBC has since named Linares their champion in recess, creating the opportunity for the vacant title shot.
The Italian Marsili (32-0-1, 14 KOs) will make his 2016, U.S. and Showtime debut. The undefeated southpaw has fought all but one of his professional fights in Italy, the lone exception a 2012 TKO of veteran contender Derry Matthews in Britain.
The 39-year old fought twice in 2015, a seventh-round TKO of Gyorgy Mizsei Jr., for the European lightweight belt and a 12-round unanimous decision over Gamaliel Diaz for the WBC’s 135-pound silver title.
Trainer Virgil Hunter, on whether Amir Khan lost speed by going up in weight: "His speed has not been compromised at all, and I know it's a lot of photos out there, outlets or public, make your own determination, weigh-in or during the fight, but he has not lost an iota of speed. When you're gifted with it like he is, you'll grow with it. It's no different than LeBron James being in high school touching the white square at 190, and he still can do it at 230. It's really not that much different than a sprinter, Bo Jackson running a 9.1 in the 200 and still doing it at 225. No, his speed hasn't been compromised at all."
Amir Khan: "I've been watching video of Canelo, and day after day it's getting more and more confident that I can beat this guy. So I'm really looking forward to it, and we still have another three to four weeks left of training where I'm going to be focusing, and I'm still going to be giving 100 percent so when I do walk into that ring, I'm not only going to do myself proud, but I'm going to do my family proud, I'm going to do my country proud, and I'm going to bring back home the belt."
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services