Russell Jr. Retains WBC Featherweight Title

Gary Russell Jr. took a speed advantage and maximized its profitability to overwhelm Joseph Diaz to retain his WBC featherweight.

Fighting in front of his hometown fans in Maryland, Russell defeated perhaps his toughest opponent since winning the WBC featherweight title by unanimous decision (115-113, 117-111, 117-111) to retain his title. Russell’s incredible display of speed and activity were the key factors in the victory. Despite landing only 20 percent of his total punches, Russell threw 992 punches as Diaz was only able to throw 491.

The champion started the fight by throwing more than 200 punches in the first two minutes of the fight, pressuring Diaz from the start. Diaz did eventually bounce back and started landing numerous body shots, but was unable to seriously hurt Russell.

Diaz’s success landing punches was inconsistent as Russell’s jab was relentless throughout the fight, not allowing Diaz many chances to fight back effectively.

Russell has been one of the more consistent champions in boxing’s featherweight division, but is now looking at a unification fight. In a post-fight interview, Russell said he would love to fight the winner of the Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares fight for the WBA featherweight title that is taking place on June 9.

Gary Russell Jr. (c) vs. Joseph Diaz: WBC featherweight title fight

Round 1: The fight starts off with Russell throwing a couple of speedy jabs to Diaz, who plays defense for the first minute of the fight. Diaz throws a short uppercut and a solid left body hook. Russell spent the entire first round throwing jabs and putting pressure on Diaz.

Round 2: Russell hurts Diaz with the jab and then starts to work Diaz’s body. Diaz is in trouble in the first minute, but he bounces back nice by throwing numerous vicious left hooks. Diaz then lands a 1-2 to the body followed by several more left hooks upstairs. Diaz is now the one pressuring Russell.

Round 3: Russell starts to throw the jab less and is now throwing more power punches with the right hand. Diaz continues to throw the left hook, but Russell is able to counter it by landing a right hook. Diaz connects with a vicious left hook to Russell’s jaw that stopped him in his tracks for a second.

Round 4: The round opens up with Russell pressuring Diaz with several three-punch combinations, utilizing his right hand to it fullest extent. Diaz continues to work the body and is able to slow down Russell just a bit.

Round 5: Russell goes back to throwing dozens of quick jab to overwhelm Diaz. Diaz starts to fight back by landing three straight right hooks as Russell has his back to the ropes. Diaz is now pressuring Russell with his power punches.

Round 6: Russell starts off by throwing several combinations upstairs as Diaz is forced to simply defend against Russell. Diaz tries to throw a few combinations of his own, but Russell responds by throwing about a dozen jabs to Diaz. Russell connects with a strong right hook to Diaz’s ribs.

Round 7: The seventh round starts off the same way as the last few rounds did with Russell continuing to pressure Diaz by throwing an absurd amount of punches. Russell is able to sprinkle in some counter hooks to Diaz as the challenger continues to try and find an opening and attack.

Round 8: Russell’s activity does not slow down even after throwing hundreds of punches already in this fight. Russell goes to work on Diaz’s body midway through the round. Diaz does get to land a couple of strong jabs upstairs, but Russell just continues to relentlessly pressure Diaz.

Round 9: Russell throws three straight left jabs and finishes the combo off with a right hand to Diaz’s body. The champion continues to utilize his speed to his advantage while Diaz tries to land any good punch to try and throw Russell off his game.

Round 10: Diaz pressures Russell into a corner but barely throws a good punch to take advantage. He eventually does throw a couple of hooks to Russell’s body, but Russell quickly escapes from danger and is back to throwing that speedy jab of his.

Round 11: Russell remains active and not looking to let up as he continues to utilize the jab to set up his stronger punches. Diaz responds by fighting toe-to-toe with Russell, but Diaz doesn’t last long before getting overwhelmed by the flurry of punches Russell has thrown throughout the entire fight.

Round 12: The final round starts off with Russell still throwing a lot of uninterrupted punches. The crowd spurs Russell on by chanting “Gary!” and Diaz is unable to mount a strong comeback to win this fight. Russell spent the last minute of the round trying to clinch. Diaz manages to get a solid combination in, but it was too little, too late for the challenger.

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