It took everything he had to remain champion, but Gary Russell Jr. earned himself a decision over Joseph Diaz to leave the MGM National Harbor with the WBC featherweight title still around his waist.
Russell picked up his third title defense, improving to 29-1 overall by winning all three scorecards over Diaz. Two judges ruled it 117-111 in favor of the champion, with the third going 115-113.
“We had to make the adjustments,” said Russell, who suffered a hand injury early in the fight. “He couldn’t get past my jab. When he got close, we made sure to smother him. Then we reset and got back on the stick.”
The loss was the first in the career of Diaz, dropping him to 26-1 overall.
In England, Josh Warrington scored a split decision victory over Lee Selby for the IBF 126-pound title.
“We want a unification,” Russell said. “We want to unify this division, or we’re moving up in weight for another title. I want another belt.”
Gary Antonio Russell scored his fifth career knockout and moved to 9-0 with a victory over Jonathan Lecona, while Gary Antuanne Russell stopped Wilmer Rodriguez in the first round to push his record to 6-0. Both are brothers with the current champion, making this the second consecutive card they have all three competed on.
The card was part of a split-site event on Showtime that also featured Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.