Gary Russell Jr. vs. Joseph Diaz Jr. – Results
By Jim Dower: WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (29-1, 17 KOs) used his superior hand speed and high work rate to defeat 2012 Olympian Joseph Diaz Jr. (26-1, 14 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hills, Maryland.
The judges’ scores were 115-113, 117-111, 117-111. Boxing News 24 had it for Russell Jr. by the score 117-111. He built up a big lead in the first 8 rounds, and the coasted in the final 4 rounds to win a fairly easy fight.
Diaz Jr. was too slow, and he wasn’t letting his hands go the that he needed to for him to win. Russell’s hand speed advantage had a lot to do with that. He was hitting Diaz with shots that were so fast and powerful that it made him hesitant to attack the way he needed to for him to win.
Diaz was the bigger man inside the ring, as expected, but the speed wasn’t there for him. It didn’t matter that he looked to be 10 lbs. heavier than Russell Jr. The difference in hand speed between the two was extraordinary. Diaz fought like he was in slow motion compared to Russell Jr., and that was the telling factor in the fight.
Diaz didn’t do much in the 1st round. He let Russell get off with a massive amount of shots, most of which were blocked, but a lot of them still leaked through and connected. Diaz looked like he was afraid.
In round 2, Diaz landed some nice body shots that seemed to give the edge. Russell was still landing, but the eye-catching body shots from Diaz seemed to make the difference in the round. Russell Jr. was saying that his hand was hurt.
Russell Jr. came on strong in round 3, landing lots of shots and shutting Diaz down in that round.
Diaz went on the attack in round 4 and worked Russell’s body. The volume punching from Russell got the better of Diaz in that round. Diaz would land a body shot, and Russell would respond with a flurry of punches. Diaz was using his size advantage, but Russell showed that being smaller wasn’t a terrible thing for him. He was so much quicker than Diaz. Everything that Diaz would land would be answered back with hard shots from Russell Jr.
In rounds 5, 6 and 7, Diaz’s punches were landing with a lot of power. The body shots that was connecting with looked like they were having an effect on Russell Jr. However, Diaz wasn’t throwing enough shots to win the rounds clearly. Russell was always connecting with the speedy shots that impressed the judges. Russell’s activity was too much for Jo Jo Diaz in those rounds.
In rounds 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, Diaz wasn’t throwing enough punches. He was throwing 20 hard shots in each round, but it wasn’t nearly enough for him to get the better of Russell Jr. He was far busier, and much quicker. The speed made Russell’s punches look more effective. Diaz was trying his best, but he wasn’t throwing enough shots. It’s easy to say that Diaz should have let his hands go more, but he would have sacrificed his power in doing so. More importantly, Diaz would have gassed out if he tried to throw as many punches as Russell was throwing. Diaz didn’t have the gas tank.
Overall, the 25-year-old Diaz tried his best, but he wasn’t good enough. There’s no point in the two fighters facing each other in a rematch, because it’ll be the same thing. Russell is too fast for Diaz, and he’s way too busy. Diaz needs to fight someone slower than Russell for him to have a better shot at winning.