Preview: Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Gary Russell Jr.

By Laurena Marrone on March 25, 2015
Preview: Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Gary Russell Jr.
“A lot of people are doubting me going into this fight because of the speed of Russell.”

“Jhonny Gonzalez is more of a dangerous fighter than Lomachenko just because of his punching ability and him being a seasoned professional…”

While the boxing world is flooded with everything from Money to Mitt, a very important, dare I say, potentially game-changing fight will take place this Saturday, March 28th. Jhonny Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KOs), of Mexico City, will defend his WBC featherweight title in a bout against Gary Russell Jr. (25-1, 14 KOs), of Capitol Heights, MD at The Palms in Las Vegas. The fight airs on Showtime at 10 p.m. EST, 7 p.m. PST. The co-feature, which pits two former sparring partners against each other, spotlights junior middleweights Vanes Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 KOs) of Glendale, CA and Jermell Charlo (25-0, 11 KOs) of Houston, TX, setting the winner up for a title shot.

Depending on how you look at it, all eyes may be on either fighter. For Gonzalez, he has a title belt on the line, which he’ll need to maintain in order to get the Abner Mares rematch. For Russell, it’s time to prove himself. Both the media and fans have been waiting to see what the “2011 Prospect of the Year” by SI, ESPN and can do, and this would be his first world title.

Both power punchers, it may very well come down to speed versus experience. Jhonny Gonzalez has knocked out more people than Russell has ever faced professionally. He’s also got the height and reach advantage. But, Russell is a southpaw, and southpaws have proven to be trouble for Gonzalez, handing him his only two losses since 2009 as well as his only career knockout loss.

Gary Russell Jr. is hard hitting with quick hand speed. His only title shot thus far also brought him his first loss, to Vasyl Lomachenko, in June of 2014. It was a tough loss, and Russell looked fatigued and sluggish even in the early rounds. In fact, he never landed 10 or more punches in any round against Lomachenko. However, aside from that fight, he’s shown great promise, power and agility. Russell is certain that the loss to Lomachenko came from a change in his training camp before the fight and that the fighter we’ll see on Saturday is the fighter who racked up 24 straight wins before that day. “My conditioning was totally different with Lomachenko,” he says. “We had a new person who did everything different, right down to how we cut weight before the fight. People saw the difference in my punching ability, endurance, speed… just me as a person. People just knew that wasn’t the Gary Russell Jr. they’d seen in the previous 24 fights.” Now, with things back to normal in his training camp, Russell says the lesson learned is “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.”

Russell Jr. returned to the ring late last year to face Chris Martin in what was more like a sparring session than a fight. He landed 49% of his power punches and looked like he was back on his game. It was a commanding performance, and just what he needed after the loss. But Jhonny Gonzalez is a far cry from Chris Martin, and is a very different fighter from Lomachenko. Russell said he is “120% ready for the fight,” but also recognizes that “Jhonny Gonzalez is more of a dangerous fighter than Lomachenko just because of his punching ability and him being a seasoned professional.”

Regardless, Russell is confident. “He won’t be able to deal with my speed and he lacks the ring generalship with his footwork. “I’ll outpunch him and be able to punch him between his shots.”

Jhonny Gonzalez has won 17 of his last 18 fights, highlighted by his first round KO of the heavily favored Abner Mares in 2013. He’s a forceful technician who likes to stay in the pocket and battle it out. Earlier this week, Showtime’s Steve Farhood named him on his “Destructive Dozen” list of most destructive punchers. Both he and the boxing world have been waiting for a Mares rematch, but he’ll have to get through Gary Russell Jr. first. 

Gonzalez works hard and often gets the job done quickly. During the second longest winning streak of his career (11 fights) between 2009 and 2001, his average was 4.1 rounds per fight. It’s no wonder his fan base outside of Mexico didn’t grow as quickly as many with such stellar records—we barely got a chance to see him in action.

“At this point in my career, he is the fastest opponent I have ever faced,” says Gonzalez. “He has very fast hands and puts together good combinations. To prepare for Russell, I am constantly keeping my hands up at all times during my training. I am training that if he throws punches at me, I know how to immediately react and throw shots back at him. A lot of people are doubting me going into this fight because of the speed of Russell. It’s a great challenge for me and I can’t wait to get in the ring.”

Gonzalez has been trained by Hall of Famer Ignacio Beristáin since mid-2009, and has only experienced one loss under his tutelage. He’s training Gonzalez in high altitudes and preparing him for Russell’s speed. “Gary Russell’s speed and quickness could be a factor for us in this fight,” says Beristáin. “We must find a way to eliminate it. We need to find a solution to his quickness and do everything we can to win. We feel like we’ve prepared enough and are in a great position to come out on top. Russell has fast hands and he recovers quickly. He has had knockouts at different weight levels. But we’re working really hard, and on Saturday you guys are going to see a different Jhonny Gonzalez.”

I’m not quite sure how different Gonzalez needs to be, to be honest. He’s plowed through most of his opponents, often impressively so, and finally gained the recognition he long deserved with the Mares KO. If he continues along this path, and people finally take notice, he could very well join Beristáin in the Hall of Fame.

“I am going to attack him with my power and speed,” Gonzalez says. “Once he feels my power in the ring, he’s not going to be able to think in there. He’s going to run, but if he decides to brawl with us, then we will have something for him. I am absolutely looking for the knockout and I believe I will get it. I don’t expect this fight to go the distance. I am going to pressure him from the opening bell. My conditioning and confidence is at an all-time high. I am very anxious for this title fight. I want to fight right now.”

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Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Gary Russell Jr. - SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING Promo

Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Gary Russell Jr. | Análisis Antes de la Pelea

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  1. Kid Blast 05:53am, 03/27/2015

    There is very little Lomo needs to do. IMHO

  2. Koolz 06:40pm, 03/26/2015

    Lomachenko I think needs to be able sit down on his punches more, he really tends to throw a lot of jabs and combos with out any pop.
    Gonzalez is another fighter when it comes to power.
    Look forward to the fight!

  3. Larry 11:50am, 03/26/2015

    Great write up!

  4. Kid Blast 10:58am, 03/26/2015

    If Lomo could not wax him, I’m not sure Jhonny can. He has to do it early because he tends to fade a bit in later rounds. Should be a fine tussle

  5. Koolz 10:40am, 03/26/2015

    problem with Russell is he fights in complete straight lines, who cares how fast your punch is if your just going forward, going backward, forward backward.

    He will be caught up close by Gonzalez.  I see Gonzalez KO’ing him.

    For me I am just not impressed with Russell.

    Exciting fight either way!

  6. Dymundz 10:25am, 03/26/2015

    I feel the same as Irish Frankie in that I understand much more about whats going on with this fight in a great detailed way, and I knew nothing of the background previously.  It has really helped paint the picture.  Thanks Ms. Laurena!!!

  7. Richard Cam 08:40am, 03/26/2015

    Good Job!

  8. Laurena 04:13am, 03/26/2015

    Irish Frankie- thanks so much for mistaking me for one of the site’s top editors, that’s a huge compliment. Kid- Been working and traveling, but like I said, good to be back. Thanks to you both for your support. DavidT-Thank you for your comment.

  9. DavidT 07:33pm, 03/25/2015

    Taylor.  Thorough analysis.  Sounds like Gonzalez has the advantage.

  10. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:24pm, 03/25/2015

    Laurena Marrone-I didn’t realize that you had written this article….I just took it for granted that it was one of the consistently top of the line previews that the Editor of published for upcoming fights of interest. Your back and forth with Kid Blast was my first clue…..kind’a reminded me of when I was half asleep in the back row at night school and I would find out what was going on from the other Einsteins that somehow managed to stay awake.

  11. Kid Blast 05:43pm, 03/25/2015

    Where have you been?

  12. Laurena 05:41pm, 03/25/2015

    Thanks so much, Kid Blast. It’s good to be back.

  13. Kid Blast 05:32pm, 03/25/2015

    Nice analysis

  14. Kid Blast 05:31pm, 03/25/2015

    Very tough fight to call

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