Gary Russell Jr retains featherweight crown against Kiko Martinez

Anthony Cocks

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WBC featherweight world champion ‘Mister’ Gary Russell Jr 30-1 (18) turned back the challenge of former world champ Kiko Martinez 39-9-2 (28) by fifth round TKO at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday night.

In just his fourth fight in the past four years, Russell Jr showed zero ring-rust as he displayed his superior hand speed and ring generalship to overwhelm the 33-year-old Spanish veteran.

The Maryland southpaw, 30, opened a cut over Martinez’s left eye with a right uppercut in the second round and continued to bust up the challenger’s face until the ringside physician recommended the referee stop the fight at the 2:52 mark.

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Russell Jr swept the opening four rounds on all three judges’ scorecard.

“I did pretty well,” said Russell Jr, who was making the fourth defence of the green belt. “We stayed behind the jab and he couldn’t get past it. We knew that intellect over athleticism would get it done.”

Russell Jr, whose lone loss came against pound-for-pound level fighter Vasiliy Lomachenko by majority decision five years ago, is targeting a unification bout with WBA featherweight boss Leo Santa Cruz 36-1-1 (19).

“We want Leo Santa Cruz. We want to make this fight happen,” Russell said. “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.”

If the fight against Santa Cruz can’t be made, Russell Jr said he would also consider moving up in weight to fight WBA 130-pound titleholder Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis 21-0 (20).

The clash would be a great local rivalry with Russell Jr representing Washington, DC, and Davis hailing from Baltimore.

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