Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Featherweight sensation Gary Russell Jr continued his climb up the division ranks with a dominant third round knockout over Christopher Perez on Saturday, June 30 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Russell outclassed Perez primarily with his unmatched hand speed, powerful and precise flurrying and general ring nous. With one knockdown scored in the second round, followed by a further three in the third, a teekayo win was awarded.
Official verdict: Gary Russell Jr by way of 3rd Rd TKO.
Occupying the centre of the ring immediately, Russell Jr (20-0-0, 12ko) bossed the space and almost the entire opening minute had it not been for a countering right hand landed by Perez; his most significant punch of the round. Russell, though, demonstrated his blazing-fast hand-speed, landing solitary shots but also loading up on leather and attacking the Mexican with combinations.
In round two, Russell’s flurrying began with body blows and concluded upstairs and it was this style of move that produced a knockdown in the final minute of the round. Showing a good finisher’s instinct, Russell went after Perez (23-3-0, 14ko) when he had returned to his feet, stalked his prey, caught Christopher with a mighty left hook and generally forced the Sinaloa 126lber into a retreat.
Russell scored a crucial second knockdown at the beginning of the third round, knocking Perez through the ropes and onto his seat, prompting the referee to tell Perez that he ‘needs to show him something’. That something did not arrive, though, and Russell floored him again with two minutes left to wind down on the round clock.
Then, a right hand dropped Perez and the officiator immediately took over, took a hold of Perez and invited the ringside physician into the ring. Russell then returned to his corner, nonplussed, and had his gloves taken off while Another One Bites The Dust played out.
Alan Dawson – London
Blessed with poise and filled with swag, Gary Russell Jr kayoed the traditionally durable Heriberto Ruiz in the first round of their featherweight tussle that had been initially scheduled for ten rounds at the U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio on Saturday, November 26. An emerging star at 126lbs, Russell Jr preserved his undefeated status and will have boosted his world-rank with his swift stoppage win.
Judges verdict: N/a.
Primarily known for his technique and his hand-speed, Russel Jr had, before commencement of play this evening, been taken the distance in both of his previous two outings yet he returned to halting his opponents by canvassing Ruiz in a more decisive manner than the 60-fight veteran had ever succumbed to before.
Ruiz’s mistake was trading with Russell Jr. As soon as he did so, he left himself open which was something an intelligent fighter like Russell Jr would only benefit from as he picked his punches and set up the knockout blow by first sending a right hook into the midsection of Ruiz. He then followed up the body shot with a further hook punch, this time to the braincase.
The head-bound shot was enough for Ruiz’s legs to give way and he collapsed on his back. His eyes were open, but glassy. He was conscious, but unawares of whom or where he was. It was a dangerous blow and proof that defensively-savvy Russell Jr can be an even more formidable quantity should he continue to enhance his strength and power.
“My gameplan was to take the early initiative,” said Russell Jr to HBO Sports following the official announcement of his victory. “He landed a good right hand but that’s part of the sport. Hopefully that takes away any question of whether I have a good chin.”
In a concluding statement, Russell Jr – who rose to 19-0-0, 11ko with the win – said: “I want to be exciting, but I feel there’s ways to be exciting without being reckless.”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Following Andre Berto‘s thumping world championship win over erstwhile IBF welterweight titlist Jan Zaveck in Biloxi, Mississippi on Saturday, September 3, HBO broadcaster, journalist and boxing analyst Max Kellerman offered his stance on the criticism that is oft leveled against fighters represented by Al Haymon and the power that he has at HBO Sports. Kellerman claimed it is unfair to target the fighters in question.
“There is a character in this story – you heard the name of Al Haymon mentioned with both victorious fighters,” Kellerman explained to viewers of HBO Sports at the weekend following the triumphs of Berto and Gary Russell Jr over their respective opponents Zaveck and Leonilo Miranda.
“Al Haymon is a manager, an adviser… a power broker in boxing and there’s a backlash I think, at times, against Al Haymon fighters because he seems to wield an influence that is out of proportion with others in boxing.
“He’s able to get one of his fighters [Russell Jr] an eight round fight, practically unheard of on HBO, against an over-matched opponent [Miranda]. It was a fight that usually wouldn’t have been seen on HBO. Andre Berto – for years – had been criticised for not fighting top opposition and hand-picking… Andre Berto is not hand-picking, he’ll fight anyone, that’s the people around Andre Berto being careful. And so there has been a backlash against Haymon fighters which is deserved in one way but in another way is kinda unfair to the fighters.”
Kellerman then turned to the specific performances that each fighter produced. Russell Jr (18-0-0, 10ko) showcased phenomenal hand-speed and combination-work to win every round against Miranda, the only thing lacking from his bout was the stoppage. Berto (28-1-0, 22ko), meanwhile, engaged in a brutal affair that saw both fighters cut, marked-up and bruised by the time the fifth round had closed and a corner stoppage ensured the Floridian fighter leave Biloxi with the IBF version of the championship at 147lbs.
“We saw two different kinds of fights on HBO,” mused Kellerman. “We saw an exhibition from a brilliant young fighter in Gary Russell Jr who may be too good to be tested by anyone except for the elite – we don’t know until he fights ten or twelve rounds against better opposition.
“And then we saw a fighter who may not ever crack the very top of the pound-for-pound lists; Andre Berto, unless those pound-for-pound lists are for the most exciting fighters in the sport which, it seems, he’s developing into.
“He has not been able to connect with an American fight crowd for various reasons but I don’t think those reasons will any longer include – not that they ever should have – the quality of fights he puts on because Berto is a fun fighter to watch.”
Alan Dawson – London
American Boxing standout Gary Russell lived up to his reputation as one to watch as his swift fists, stinging eight-punch combinations and unrelenting aggression overcame overmatched Mexican featherweight Leonilo Miranda in a non-title, eight round contest at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Mississippi on Saturday, September 3. Russell outworked Miranda by a four to one ratio and landed 45 percent of his punches.
Judges verdict: Unanimous decision to Gary Russell.
The headlining bout on the Mississippi card was dubbed the Battle in Biloxi but the chief support on the televised undercard, between Russell and Miranda was a battle of two kinds: between southpaws and of the jab. Russell, though, did not take long to declare his superiority as both his hand speed and combination work had Miranda backing up. Moments later, he caught the Mexican with uppercuts, hooks and straights.
In round two, it was clear Russell could panic his opponent when he trapped him against the ropes. In his attempt to score points, Miranda would dart into the inside, launch three-punch combos and motion back to the outside, however, Russell landed textbook double portside jabs. The left cross that was introduced by his right hand jab was also forceful.
Miranda had stopped 30 of the 35 opponents who he had fought prior to Russell but any power he had left the American unaffected. He simply didn’t respect it as he boxed his own, technically-classy, game. Miranda raised his guard and kept it stiff in order to prevent Russell’s shots sneaking through. But, when it came to offence, the 28-year-old from Sonora offered very little.
It took little time for Russell, in green trunks with white trim, to get to work in the fourth round as he pinned Miranda against the turnbuckle and bombarded the body. To compound Miranda’s problems, Russell moved into a higher gear as he enhanced his power and begin flurrying in six to eight punch combos. Each of the moves were all introduced with the jab and included bodywork.
In round five, Russell again punched in bunches and rose cheers from the Gulf of Mexico audience by stringing together eight punches in a matter of seconds in a single move. When Miranda attempted to crowd Russell, the American would simply pick his shots, land jabs and coast to a ten score. Miranda seemed loathe to let his fists go with the venom that his record warranted.
Russell almost secured a stoppage win when he pummeled Miranda with relentless shots without reply in the opening minute of the sixth round. Miranda was caught on the ropes, the referee took a closer look but the Mexican eventually moved away from the danger zone after taking countless shots. A cut had opened near Miranda’s right eye and Russell saw the round out with three-punch combos. Miranda returned to his blue corner breathing heavily and was blatantly deflated.
Russell forced Miranda’s head back with authoritative jabs in the seventh round. Russell sent a right hook to Miranda’s body and followed that up by locating his chin with his left fist. Russell was effectively toying with Miranda in what could have been a glorified sparring session as he was not marked, not cut, parried Miranda’s weakened shots with ease and flurried whenever he desired. He had the control… the ring was his.
Miranda planted his feet at the beginning of the eighth and final round as he covered up while Russell peppered him with a six-punch combo. Miranda attempted to throw back, but he had so little left in the tank that they had little snap to them and were easily blocked by Russell’s forearms. Russell, in contrast, was well conditioned and could have gone on to box a ten-rounder. Russell finished the round, and the contest, with Miranda pinned against the ropes taking relentless shots all over his body.
It was a dominant and impressive performance from Russell who had showcased exceptional talent and promise against Miranda, the only thing lacking was the knockout, however, the win was so good, his combination-work so awesome that it need not matter. With the win, Russell’s record was enhanced to 18-0-0, 10ko while Miranda’s resume had a further blemish on it – 32-4-0, 30ko.