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Gary Russell Jr. vs. Joseph Diaz on May 19 on Showtime

Gary Russell Jr.

By Dan Ambrose: WBC World featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) will be making his yearly appearance on May 19th in defending his title against unbeaten #1 WBC contender Joseph Diaz (26-0, 14 KOs) in a fight televised by Showtime Boxing at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.

The Russell Jr. vs. Diaz fight will be taking place on the undercard of the light heavyweight match-up between WBC 175 lb. champion Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson and former two division world champion Badou Jack. Also, on the card is unbeaten light heavyweight contender Eleider Alvarez facing a still to be determined opponent. WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman was supposed to be on the May 19th card, but he pulled out due to a hand injury he sustained while training.

Russell and Diaz have already agreed to the talent a week ago after the contest was ordered by the World Boxing Council. Russell for some reason doesn’t seem to want to stay active with his career to get the most out of his prime. The 29-year-old Russell Jr. used to be counted on to fight twice a year up until 2014. However, since Russell defeated Jhonny Gonzalez by a 4th round knockout in March 2015, he’s become a once a year fighter.

Russell Jr. fought just once a year in 2015 through 2017. Now it’s 2018, and Rusell Jr. will be fighting on May 19 against Diaz. If Russell Ur. fights a second time this year, I’ll be very surprised. I don’t begin to understand why a fighter as talented as Russell Jr. doesn’t fight as often as he can, because after all, this is the time where he can make the most money with his career.

Once Rusell Jr. gets older and loses his title, his paydays are going to drop off dramatically. That’s why he should be looking to fight frequently before he ages out. Diaz is such a good fighter that he might be able to beat Russell while he’s still in his prime. I tend to doubt it, but it’s possible.

Russell’s only career loss on his resume came against Vasyl Lomachenko in a 12 round unanimous decision defeat in 2014. Maybe that defeat made Russell Jr. reluctant to fight frequently, because ever since then, he’s fought just once per year.

Diaz competed in the 2012 Olympics for the U.S. He was eliminated by Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba by a 21-15 score. That wasn’t the first time Diaz had lost to Alvarez. He was also beaten by him in 2011 at the World Amatuer Championships by a 19-10 score. Alvarez had Diaz’s number.

Since turning pro in 2012, Diaz has beaten the likes of Jayson Velez, Victor Terrazas, Rafael Rivera, Manuel Avila, Horacio Garcia, Victor Proa, Hugo Partida and Ruben Tamayo. Diaz has been matched tough, and he’s proven repeatedly that he has the talent to beat the best. Russell Jr. might be a little too good. We’ll have to see. This is the type of opponent that Diaz struggled against in the amateur ranks. He has problems with fighters with a lot of hand speed, and Russell Jr. has a lot of that.

It should be interesting to see how well Diaz does against Russell Jr. If he’s able to win this fight, a match against WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez would be a great fight if can be made.

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