3 More Rounds

Russell knocks out Gonzalez

Photo: Esther Lin / Showtime

Photo: Esther Lin / Showtime

Gary Russell Jr. won his first world title on Saturday night with a surprise knockout win over Jhonny Gonzalez at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

Russell (26-1, 15 KOs) was unable to secure a win in his first title opportunity against Vasyl Lomanchenko last June, but against Gonzalez (57-9, 48 KOs), Russell was sharp and focused.

Despite having an edge in technical ability, Russell elected to trade with Gonzalez, who carries knockout power, but it was Russell’s speed that was the difference maker.

In the third round, Russell put Gonzalez down, and then two more times in the fourth, prompting referee Tony Weeks to waive it off.

Gary Russell Jr vs Jhonny Gonzalez

“This is the kind of performance I always expect but don’t always get,’’ said Russell after the win. “If people only knew how hard we worked for this, the time we put in the gym, the mental and physical things we work on and put ourselves through every day.

“There are always obstacles to overcome but for this fight I was 100 percent. This win is for all the people who have been with me from the beginning.’’

Gonzalez made no excuses for the loss and said he expected the fight to go differently.

“I’m OK,’’ he said. “I did not expect this kind of fight at all. We expected him to run around the ring with me chasing. But he didn’t.’’

Earlier in the night, Jermell Charlo scored a decision win over Vanes Martirosyan.

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