Gary Russell Jr. (26-1, 15 KOs) is the new WBC featherweight champion after stopping Jhonny Gonzalez (57- 9, 48 KOs) in the fourth round and preventing him from making a third successful title defense.
It was no secret that Russell Jr.’s speed was going to be a big factor in the fight but in the opening round it became evident that it was going to be an almost unfair advantage. Russell Jr. controlled the entire first round with a blistering right jab while landing a few shots to the body. Gonzalez looked very slow and was mostly inactive as he tried his best to land a plodding left hook.
In the second round, Russell Jr. continued to land his jab while looking to land a straight left. Gonzalez actually began to move forward more and began cutting off the ring while having limited success landing the overhand right.
There was more of the same for Russell Jr. in the third as he continued to land the right jab and straight left. With about six seconds left in the round, Russell Jr. landed a perfectly timed left hook followed by a blazing right hook depositing Gonzalez on the canvas. Gonzalez was on his feet at the count of six as referee Tony Weeks’ continued his count to eight and allowed Gonzalez to continue as the bell sounded to end the round.
To start the fourth and sensing that his opponent was not fully recovered, Russell came out at the bell and attacked Gonzalez landing two rights on the top of Gonzalez head followed by a left hook off of Gonzalez’s temple dropping him again. Gonzalez made it to his feet at the count of six as Weeks told Gonzalez, “I’m going to give you a chance”.
Russell Jr. then attacked Gonzalez with a flurry of blistering punches. Russell Jr. landed a left hook and as Gonzalez was stumbling around, finished him with a right uppercut knocking him to his knees and causing Weeks to jump in and stop the fight at thirty-seven seconds of the fourth.
Showtime’s Jim Gray asked Russell Jr. how he would describe making the most of his opportunity in a second try for a world title.
“I’d like to thank my mother but more importantly, my father who has been riding this wave with me all the way through, everything you see as a fighter, he’s the painter, I’m only the canvas” said Russell Jr.
On the disappointment of the Olympics, the Lomachenko loss, but finally being able to have a belt around his waist,
“We’re definitely trying to get at Lomachenko once again. Being a world champion was never one of my goals, not until after me not being able to compete in the Olympics, I had a lot of people supporting me, I felt the only way to make it up to my fans and the people that work with me, that was there for so long is to come home with this work title, we did it today”
Yes, “Mister” Gary Russell Jr. is a world champion and now has a dominating win over a quality opponent. He silenced his critics for the moment while showing that he is a force to be reckoned with.
This article contributed to BTG.