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Russell Jr. floors Gonzalez three times, wins WBC title

(Photo © Esther Lin / SHOWTIME)
(Photo © Esther Lin / SHOWTIME)

By John J. Raspanti

Gary Russell Jr. made the most of his second attempt at a world title by stopping defending WBC featherweight titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez in round four at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada Saturday night.

With a big edge in quickness and mobility, Russell Jr. (26-1, 15 KOs) worked angles and kept the heavy-handed Gonzalez at bay in round one. Gonzalez, a little taller, and with a reach advantage, stalked but mostly drew air.

Russell, a southpaw, pumped out his right with regularity. He also knocked Gonzalez (57-9, 48 KOs) off balance with a solid left.

Gonzalez caught Russell Jr. with stinging right in round two. Russell Jr. worked the body and head with some effectiveness. Both fighters traded heavy punches in the next stanza. Gonzalez was looking to get to his money punch, the left hook, untracked. He did connect with a shot to the ribs.

Russell Jr. landed a straight left hand down the pipe. A few seconds later, a crisp left-right floored Gonzalez. The champion got up quickly, but wobbled slightly.

In round four, another left put Gonzalez down on all fours. Gonzales struggled to get up. His legs were betraying him. He obviously hadn’t recovered from the first knockdown. Seconds later, a barrage of blows sent Gonzalez down for a third time.

Referee Tony Weeks stepped in and waved off the contest.

The time was 37 seconds into round four.

“I’m blessed. I appreciate the opportunity,” said Russell Jr. in the ring. “We put the work in the gym. We grind. I’m back in the gym on Monday.”

Undefeated Jermell Charlo (26-0, 11 KOs) stayed that way with a 10 round unanimous decision over Vanes Martirosyan (35-2-1, 21 KOs). Scores were 97-93, 96-94, 96-94.

Maxboxing and judged the fight a draw. (95-95).

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