Gary Russell outpoints Joseph Diaz, retains WBC featherweight title
Gary Russell Jr. retained his WBC featherweight title for the third time with a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten mandatory challenger Joseph Diaz Jr. on Saturday in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Russell (29-1, 17 knockouts), who won by scores of 117-111 (twice) and 115-113, was tested at times by the pressure and body shots his fellow southpaw was ultimately too fast, too busy and too ring savvy for the 25-year-old challenger.
Diaz (26-1, 14 KOs) was able to compete in the early rounds by countering to Russell’s body and punching around the Washington, D.C. native’s high guard with overhand lefts. However, the 29-year-old titleholder, who averaged close to 90 punches per round, took over the middle rounds by abandoning his attack plans and adopting a stick-and-move strategy. Diaz stopped punching as he followed Russell around the ring and the veteran fighter was able to handcuff the younger man with his blazing jab and combinations.
Diaz rallied in the final round, punishing Russell’s body and pushing him around the ring, but it wasn’t enough to overwhelm the hometown favorite and too late to make a difference in the scoring.
A full ringside report from Joseph Santoliquito will be posted later.