Saturday night at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill Maryland on a duel Showtime Boxing broadcast, WBC Featherweight title holder Gary Russell Jr took on Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr in a twelve round title defense. It was a fast start for the hometown champion Russell who used his jab and speed to keep Diaz Jr at bay unable to work in close where he is most effective. They would trade momentum over the next several rounds, when Diaz was able to get in close he managed to rip the body of Russell which slowed him down during the fourth and fifth rounds. In those moments when Diaz had success he pushed Russell back towards the ropes forcing the champion to take deep breaths as he headed towards his corner.
When the midway point arrived Russell used his footwork and jab once again limiting the defensive output of Diaz Jr. In rounds six through eleven, while Diaz Jr had moments of success Gary Russell Jr controlled the ring confusing Diaz Jr with “Shoe Shine” combinations. The final round would close with both men throwing combinations and bringing the crowd to their feet. When final scores were read Judge Dave Braslow scored it 115-113 while Judges Dave Moretti and Nathan Palmer 117-111 all in favor of Gary Russell Jr who retained his title and improved to 29-1 (17), Joseph Diaz Jr. now stands at 26-1 (14).
This was a case of a very good fighter in Gary Russell Jr, taking on a very good prospect who was not quite ready for this step up in class. His promotional team had only recently placed him in against world caliber competition and should he expect to make it to that next level they will need to get him in against a variety of different opponents not always suited for his style. In the case of Gary Russell Jr, he needs to be more active because the skills are there to compete with and beat the divisions other title holders.
In Undercard action
Super Middleweight- Immanuwel Aleem 18-1-1 (11) def. Juan De Angel 20-9-1 (18) via RTD 6.
Super Featherweight- Cobia Breedy 11-0 (4) def. Christopher Martin 30-10-3 (10) via UD 6.
Super Lightweight- Gary Antuanne Russell 6-0 (6) def. Wilmer Rodriguez 9-3 (7) via KO 1.
Bantamweight- Antonio Russell 11-0 (9) def. Jonathan Lecona Ramos 17-21-4 (6) via TKO 5.
Middleweight- Brandon Quarles 19-4-1 (10) def. Fidel Monterrossa Munoz 38-18-1 (30) via TKO 5.
Cruiserweight- Reuben Simmons 3-0 (2) def. Ayron Davis 0-2 via RTD 1.