This week, Showtime returns championship boxing back to the airways as they will be live from Las Vegas, Nevada when the WBC World Featherweight Champion Jhonny Gonzalez will be making his 3rd title defense as he squares off against Gary Russell Jr.. Also on the undercard will be Jermell Charlo, who will be stepping into the ring against Vanes Martirosyan, in what will be a matchup of two of the top five junior middleweights in the world and in a battle that will likely lead to a championship shot next.
Jhonny Gonzalez will be stepping into the ring with a record of 57-8 with 48 KOs. The 33-year-old hard punching Mexican shocked the world 19 months ago when he finished the then Featherweight Champion Abner Mares with a devastating 1st round KO. Before that win, Gonzalez was being looked at as a solid journeyman fighter that had his best win against Hozumi Hasegawa in 2011. He has gained respect since the Mares victory but has still yet to prove it wasn’t a fluke. Will a win against Russell Jr change that?
The 26-year-old Gary Russell Jr holds a record of 25-1 with 14 KOs, but the record doesn’t come close to telling the story of his career. For about 4-5 years, fans have been enamored with Russell Jr’s fast hands and abundance of potential. However, he has had a career of bad hands, which have been broken numerous times. He has been hyped his entire career but has yet to prove his worth. As a matter of fact, there is not one win on Russell Jr’s resume that is even worth mentioning. Can this be the 1st notch that he puts on his belt?
Normally in boxing, a fight will either prove someone right or someone wrong. This fight may not do either. Gonzalez has yet to show he can beat anyone at the elite level other than the one fight against Mares, but Russell Jr isn’t an elite fighter either. Russell Jr has yet to prove he can beat anyone of any worth, but if he wins, how good is Gonzalez really? Because of all the question marks regarding this fight, it’s hard to pick a winner. I don’t think Gonzalez is as good as people are making him out to be, but I do think he’s better than Russell Jr, because of that I’m going with Gonzalez by 4th round TKO on the premise that I don’t think Russell Jr should even be given this title opportunity.
In the next best fight on this event, Jermell Charlo (25-0 with 11 KOs) will be facing off against Vanes Martirosyan (35-1-1 with 21 KOs). Charlo’s best wins have come against Gabriel Rosado and Demetrius Hopkins while Martirosyan’s best fights were a draw against Erislandy Lara and a split decision loss to Demetrius Andrade. Both fighters are hoping that a win here, against another top junior middleweight, could propel them into a championship bout in their next fight.
Since neither fighter is in the Floyd Mayweather category of opponents, both would probably like a title shot against Lara or Andrade. The other belt holder is Cornelius Bundrage, who is likely to be taking on Timothy Bradley Jr. This is also a tough bout to call, but I feel that it will go to decision. With that in mind, Charlo is supposed to be one of the “rising stars” at Golden Boy Promotions, so with that in mind, I see it as 6 rounds to 4 or 7 rounds to 3 in favor of Charlo.
This is a card that isn’t being hyped as much as the Thurman-Guerrero, the Garcia-Peterson, or even the Berto-Lopez fight was, but this should involve two solid fights that either involve a championship belt or could lead to a championship belt being on the line. This is not a card for a casual fan, but hardcore boxing fans will be watching. No matter what the results will be, the sport of boxing be lionized with another night of good boxing, enjoy the fights.