Gary Russell Jr., owner of maybe the fastest hands in the business, threw them at Viacheslav Gusev repeatedly in Showtime's TV opener Saturday night, which unfolded at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas.
He won by UD10, via scores of 100-89, times three, and proved that he is too talented to not be fighting the top guys in his division.
After, Russell told Jim Gray that his left hand was hurting him around round four or five. He said he hasn't had hand problems the last three or four fights and doesn't think his hands are a perennial problem going forward. Who's next? He said he wants Juan Manuel Lopez. Please, he needs a stiffer test than he's been handed. Fight fans deserve it, and he deserves it, in my opinion. Not sure what or who the hold up is, but let's break down the barrier, and get Russell, a most talented athlete, in with someone who can push him.
Gusev (20-2 entering; from Russia) had just 5 KOs coming in. Russell (21-0 entering with 13 KOs) hails from DC.
Golden Boy promoted the scrap and the card.
In the first round of the featherweight tussle, Russell, ranked No. 3 by the WBA, popped the jab, threw one-twos, and landed a left uppercut that landed clean. Gusev looked to work the body, but he was getting raked at the end of the first.
Gusev tried to be first, be more aggressive rather than let Russell dominate in round two. It worked, to a point.
Then Russell landed a counter right hook, which had Gusev's knee hit the canvas, for a knockdown, in the third.
In the fourth, Russell dominated the Russian. Same in round five and six. You hoped for Russell to elevate, switch up something, to take out the Russian, who is a crafty defender.
The rounds by now looked like carbon copies and I paid too much attention to Twitter, to be honest.
Russell's glove ruptured, so he needed a new one before round nine. His corner told Jim Gray that they thought their guy maybe broke his left hand earlier on, for the record.
The fight, which slipped into a repetitive lull, went to the cards.
Russell went 229-797 to 33-214 for the loser.
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Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?