Gary Russell Jr. defended his WBC featherweight title for the third time with a hard-fought unanimous decision over previously unbeaten mandatory challenger Joseph Diaz Jr. Saturday at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Russell (29-1, 17 KO's), 29, who was born and raised in Maryland, absorbed some heavy body punches from Diaz in the earlier part of the fight, but dug down deep, found a second wind, and put on a boxing clinic against the 25-year-old.
The judge scored the fight 117-111 (twice) and 115-113 for Russell. FightNights.com had it 115-113, also for Russell.
Diaz (26-1, 14 KO's), 25, of Downey, California, was able to cut off the ring in the early rounds and hammer Russell to the body, but was mostly inactive for the first half of each round, sporadically using his jab.
FightNights.com had Diaz up four rounds to two through six rounds. However, Russell made his mid-fight adjustment, and Diaz did not, chasing Russell around the ring, blinded by Russell's incredible hand speed and combinations.
Russell snagged five of the last six rounds on our card.
Although Diaz found his second gear in the final round, pummeling Russell's body in the same fashion that got him a lead earlier in the bout, it was not enough to derail Russell, as the former amateur standout earned his fifth consecutive victory in a spectacular performance.