Gary Russell took on Roberto Castaneda, in a featherweight scrap, in the ShoBox main event at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA on Friday night. Possessor of some of the very fastest hands in the game, Russell showed them off, in particular his right, in the third. A right hook, which landed on the chin, after coming from outside his peripheral vision, sent Castaneda down and paralyzed him. The ref knew it, and didn't need to count. The ending came at 1:25, for the record.
All I think can agree that Russell is a solid prospect, who we are eager to see take on a heralded foe. Ideas, readers?
Russell (20-0 entering; living in Maryland; age 24) was 126.8 pounds, while Castaneda (21; 20-2 entering; from Mexico) was 125. In the first, the lefty Russell popped that blinding jab, and ripped combos. He never threw single shots, preferring to put together his punches in bunches. Papa Russ in the corner told his kid to go to the body in the third. Castaneda ate a screaming right hand which crumpled him to end it.
Terrell Gausha fought Dustin Caplinger in a super middle tangle. Cappy went down with 35 seconds to go, and did well to exit the round. In the second, he went down again. And again...and the doc threw in the towel. The winner could have used a better foe to test him a bit more, if you want to quibble. The end came at 1:55.
Errol Spence took on Jon Garcia in a junior middle tangle. The lefthander Spence showed fast hands. He was flowing and sharp, and Garcia was overmatched, but willing to stick around to earn his pay. He kept his hands slow, inviting Spence to hit him, as if he needed the impetus. Garcia went down in the third, with 35 seconds left. He ate more, and the ref stopped it. Steve Farhood, the analyst, called the winner "composed" and Raul Marquez gave him a thumbs up as well. "This was a good style for him to learn," he said. Barry Tompkins said he "kinda showed the whole package."
Marcus Browne, from Staten Island, met Codale Ford. The New Yorker said he was fighting for those in the region who were hit hard by the severe storm Sandy. The lefty Browne was the more tutored of the two, and it showed. Ford scored a takedown in the second, showing some of his MMA skills. Browne's body work affected Ford. He went down in the third, after trainer Gary Stark Sr. told Browne to get nastier. A left hand to the body did the damage. The ref halted the affair as Browne ripped nasty. Two rights to the body had the ref diving in to save the loser. The time was 1:04 for the New Yorker, who looked like a pro in there, sharp and focused.
Dominic Breazeale, a heavyweight who played QB in college, took on Curtis Tate. A Toughman type without much seasoning, he went down off a right 40 seconds in. He said he couldn't see, the ref stopped the fight, then he re-started it. Breazeale knocked him down right away, and the fight was stopped. The time was 1:06. It sounded like the loser said he couldn't see out of his left eye.
Bantam Rau'Shee Warren, a three-time Olympian, kicked off the TV portion of the show. He met Luis Rivera, and looked to crack from the get go. He both led and countered, and showed nice speed of hand. The Ohioan dominated, and had his man in some trouble in the fourth but couldn't cap the night with a KO. In fact, he was knocked down, with a minute left, though he protested that he slipped. He was right, it was a pure balance issue. But Warren still left the building with the W, scoring a UD4.
SPEEDBAG Tompkins and Farhood honored Emanuel Steward, the Hall of Famer trainer-manager-promoter-analyst. We saw a package featuring an Al Bernstein on voiceover as well. "Manny will perhaps be best remembered as boxing's best ambassador," he said. Amen.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV