OXON HILL, Md. — Junior welterweight up-and-comer Gary Antuanne Russell barely broke a sweat blowing away Kent Cruz in the first round of the Emmanuel Rodriguez-Melvin Lopez Showtime co-feature on Saturday night at the MGM National Harbor.
Russell, the younger brother of trainer and former featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr., pummeled Cruz with body punches for the easy win.
Russell (17-0, 16 KOs), 27, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, and fighting in front of a hometown crowd, backed Cruz up and nailed with five quick body shots both hands, dropping Cruz for the first time.
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Cruz (16-1-3, 10 KOs), 30, of St. Louis, beat the count and tried to shake it off but Russell was all over him. He continued to pound Cruz’s body and also slipped in a pair of uppercuts that did damage. Cruz eventually went down on all fours from the attack and was unable to beat the count of referee Bill Clancy, who counted him out at 2 minutes, 39 seconds.
“This is obviously good. I saw the opening and I took it, and I was trying to remain disciplined defensively at the same time. More than anything, I was trying to make sure I could end it in the first round.,” Russell told Showtime post-fhgt.
“Like I said before, I wasn’t shooting for the knockout streak, but that’s just what happened during a minute and a half worth of work tonight. If the opportunity is there, why not take it?”
Russell was in his first fight in 13 months since he knocked out former world titlist Rances Barthelemy in the sixth round and certainly did not look rusty.
Cruz came into the fight coming off back-to-back eight-round draws with unbeaten Enriko Gogokhia last year.
Maestre crushes Marshall
Welterweight Gabriel Maestre showed that prospect Travon Marshall was not at all ready for prime time, knocking him down twice in a crushing second-round knockout in the opener.
Maestre (6-0-1, 5 KOs), 36, a two-time Olympian from Venezuela, was supposed to test Marshall but not too much, especially with Marshall, from nearby Capitol Heights, Maryland, fighting in front his home crowd. But after a competitive first round, Maestre went after him and took care of business – violently.
He badly hurt Marshall, who had a seven-inch reach advantage he could not use at all, with a right hand and then landed a pair of window-dressing lefts that sent him nearly between the ropes and to the floor for the first knockdown.
Marshall (8-1, 7 KOs), 22, was shaky after the knockdown and the fight could have been stopped but referee Sharon Sands allowed it to continue.
Maestre was all over him, however, and it was apparent the fight would soon be over. Maestre unleashed a sustained flurry of about 20 punches, most of which landed. There were several clean, head-swiveling shots during the sequence that left Marshall out on his feet along the ropes before he finally went down for the second time as Sands was finally waving off the fight at 2 minutes, 6 seconds.