Sunday, April 02, 2023  |



Russell makes short work of Pastrana

Fighters Network

Gary Russell is going to have a hard time gaining seasoning if he continues to end fights this quickly.

The super-talented 2008 Olympian stopped veteran Mauricio Pastrana only 1:46 into a scheduled six-round junior lightweight bout on the Fight Night Club card Thursday at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles.

It was Russell’s fourth first-round KO in his last five fights.

“I was expecting tougher competition,” Russell said immediately after the fight.

That was a reasonable expectation given Pastrana’s experience. The 37-year-old from Colombia is a two-time junior flyweight titleholder, although he hasn’t worn a belt since 1998. And he was 1-7 in his last eight fights.

Now, after the quick, but emphatic beating, Pastrana might be finished.

Russell (11-0, 8 knockouts) took his time early in the round, boxing carefully. Once an opportunity presented itself, though, he pounced.

The beginning of the end was right hook that caught Pastrana (35-15-2, 23 KOs) flush and sent him reeling to the ropes. Russell, as quick-handed as anyone, then unloaded a flurry of hard punches and Pastrana wilted to one knee.

Referee Lou Moret looked Pastrana in the eyes, one of which was bleeding, and ended it right there.

“I knew I hurt him with the right hook,” Russell said. “Then I went in and finished him.”

Russell is best known for missing the weigh-in and spoiling his Olympic dreams at the Sydney Games because he collapsed in his dorm room, apparently the result of dehydration.

In the co-feature, Nestor Rocha (22-2, 7 KOs) stopped always-tough journeyman Benji Garcia (14-16-3, 1 KO) of San Diego 45 seconds into the second round of a scheduled six-round bantamweight fight.

Garcia came out and attacked, as usual. However, Rocha, a seasoned 27-year-old from Los Angeles, kept his composure and boxed. Then, suddenly, he unloaded a vicious body shot that sent Garcia to the canvas in one corner and he couldn’t continue.

Garcia was fighting for the first time since he was stopped in one round by then-titleholder Hozumi Hasegawa almost exactly a year ago in Tokyo.

David Morales (1-0-1) of Long Beach, Calif., put John Willoughby (2-4, 1 KO) of Selma, Ala., down in the first round en route to a unanimous decision in a four-round junior welterweight bout.

Angel Estrada (5-0-1, 2 KOs) of San Diego outpointed Raul Tovar (7-4-1, 3 KOs) of Mission, Texas, in an entertaining six-round welterweight bout.

And, in an epic little junior welterweight war, Oscar Andrade (2-0, 1 KO) of Los Angeles outpointed Ramon Valadez (1-1) of East L.A. over four rounds – 39-37 on all three cards.

The fighters almost literally didn’t stop throwing punches from the opening bell to the final bell, which had the fans screaming their approval during the action and shaking their heads between rounds. They probably threw close to 1,000 punches combined, or around 125 per round each, leaving both utterly exhausted afterward.

“This is totally different from the amateurs. This is much more difficult,” Andrade said.

No kidding.