Gary Russell Jr is only 26 years old, yet, he has had many ups and downs in his short career. There was the missed opportunity at winning Olympic Gold in the 2008 Beijing games. Then there was a major setback early in his career when problems with his hands placed him on a short hiatus. It is safe to say that he should be an Olympic Gold medalist with a title already strapped around his waist. His first big opportunity for a title fight was against top prospect, Vasyl Lomachenko for the WBO Featherweight title. That fight provided another setback in his career as he suffered his first loss. After that loss many critics began to lose faith in the Russell hype and believed he was not destined to become a world champion. Al Haymon, however, had other plans.
Just one fight after the loss he was handed another title shot against WBC champion Jhonny Gonzalez. Nobody knew just how Russell would respond after the loss to Lomanchenko. In fact, nobody really knew what Russell was really made of. He hadn’t had enough competition, since most of his fights were against TBA opponents until a month before his fights. In the flip side of things, everyone knew what Gonzalez was going to bring with him- that rigid come forward type style.
This fight was a big style clash with Gonzalez wanting to establish his power and Russell Jr using his imperial hand speed. On paper, Gonzalez was the more polished of the two fighters with over 58 total fights in his career making him a true hardened veteran. None of those victories were as big as his previous knockout win against Abner Mares. With that win behind him, Gonzalez was also chasing a ghost in this bout. He recently lost a dear friend of his, Perro Aguayo Jr. in a tragic accident that happened in a wrestling event in Tijuana, Mexico. Gonzalez was also slapped with a recent lawsuit filed by Golden Boy Promotions. With all of these distractions aside, he still looked ready and in top tier shape for this fight.
In comparison, Russell Jr had the edge in boxing ability early on in the fight but what was a huge surprise is how often he was able to jump on Gonzalez. With Gonzalez having such a big edge in power you would think that he would be able to keep Russell Jr at bay with counter power shots. That never surfaced for Gonzalez and what happened instead was a huge onslaught of speed, power, and accuracy from the furious hands of Russell Jr. By the third round, Russell Jr had completely overwhelmed Gonzalez and knocked him down from a blistering left hook. The left hook was key in Russell Jr.’s gameplan. It was something he admitted working on during camp. He didn’t stop the flurry after the third round and continued to hammer Gonzalez with more shots. During the fourth round, Gonzalez went down from another big combination and the referee didn’t allow the fight to continue as Gonzalez was getting hammered and was on borrowed time. It was a great finish to the fight for Russell Jr who is now the new WBC Featherweight champ and once again a force in the division.