Featherweight world champion Gary Russell Jr. will defend his WBC title against undefeated mandatory challenger Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. on Saturday, May 19 in a clash live on SHOWTIME from MGM National Harbor in Maryland.
Tickets for the MGM National Harbor show, which is promoted by TGB Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions, are on sale now and are available by visitinghttp://mgmnationalharbor.com/.
Russell Jr. and Diaz Jr. have both had sensational professional and amateur careers, including representing the U.S. at two different Olympic Games – Russell in 2008 and Diaz in 2012. Russell is noted for having some of the fastest hands in boxing. He`ll be tested by a young, hungry contender, determined to impress rather than digress, in his first world title fight.
The 29-year-old Russell (28-1, 17 KOs), who was born in Washington, D.C. and now lives in Capitol Heights, Maryland, will be defending his title before a hometown crowd. This will be Russell’s second straight fight at MGM National Harbor following his knock-out win over Oscar Escondon in his first title defense there on May 20, and second defense overall. It was his third straight knockout victory in a world title fight since dropping a majority decision to Vasyl Lomachenko in his first world title bid in 2014.
Russell, who is trained by his father, Gary, Sr., is part of a boxing family. Two of his younger brothers, Gary Antonio and Gary Antuanne, are undefeated professionals, also trained by Dad, and will be fighting on their older brother’s undercard.
“I don’t see this being a long night,” said Russell Jr. “If he gets reckless, it might end early. I don’t plan on going the distance with anyone I step in the ring with. He’s in for a rude awakening. I don’t feel as though he has the punching power, the hand speed or the ring IQ to do anything to me. At the end of the day he’ll have the opportunity to say he got in the ring with Mr. Gary Russell, Jr.
“It will be an early birthday gift for my Dad. Last year I fought on his birthday, May 20. That’s pretty cool. I love fighting at the MGM. I love the convenience. I love that all my friends and fans being there. And the people who honk at me from their cars when I’m running can hop in their cars rather than get on a plane to come and see me fight.”
Diaz Jr., who`s trained by his father, Joseph, Sr., was a two-time amateur national champion in the bantamweight division. He represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic games in London. Immediately after that , Diaz Jr. signed with Golden Boy Promotions and began a stellar career that has earned him a spot at the pinnacle of the featherweight division.
“I’m happy to be fighting for my first world title against the best 126-pound world champion,” said Diaz Jr, adding: “I’ll prove to everyone that I belong on that featherweight throne come May 19.”
“I will be the bigger man come fight night, and I will break him down physically and mentally. He just better give me the credit I deserve once I beat him, and not blame his inactivity for being a factor in his loss.”