Gary Russell Jr. (30-1, 18 KOs) made quick work of former champion Kiko Martinez (39-9-2, 28 KOs) on Saturday night.
The bout took place on May 18, 2019 at Barclays Center in New York City. It was Russell Jr.’s first fight of the calendar year, and unfortunately for fans it was possibly his last until next year.
Since the year 2015, Russell Jr. has only fought one time in a calendar year. His inactivity has been well chronicled, but his work ethic and ability to stay ready is also well known. Rust has never been an issue for the current WBC Featherweight champion and on this night it was no different.
Russell Jr. started off fast, his hand speed, which is regarded as the best in all of boxing seemed to overwhelm his 33 year old opponent. Throughout the career of Martinez, he has been known for having a come forward style. That is the exact tactic he tried to employ on this night. It wasn’t a good game plan to say the least. The former champion, Martinez ate heavy shots early on.
The WBC belt holder even seemed to stun his man several times throughout. As the match continued, Russell Jr. opened up a cut over the left brow of his opponent.
Blood began to stream from the wound but it did not deter the rugged veteran from marching forward and giving it everything he had. In round four Russell Jr. really had his hand speed on full display, he pushed Martinez back with several combinations.
It was becoming increasingly clear that Martinez was falling behind on the scorecards. Instead of taking his foot off the gas, and cruising to a decision victory, he cranked it up a notch. As round five was taking place, Martinez was receiving an absolute pounding. The cut above his left eye was also getting worse.
Shortly after another flurry of punches had taken place the referee was called to inspect the cut. It was determined from there that the wound was too deep for Martinez to continue.
Martinez had no quarrels with the decision to stop the contest.
“It was a good stoppage for a very tough fight,” said Martinez. “I’m definitely a visual fighter so the cut made it tough. Gary was in great physical condition and it was a very hard fight.”
As for Russell he has once again gone on the record to publicly call out one man that he has been chasing for a long time.
“We want (WBA Featherweight Champion) Leo Santa Cruz,” said Russell Jr. “We want to make this fight happen. The fire is all the way hot on this side of the field. You will get burned. I would love for that fight to happen this year. Let’s make it happen.”