So much for ring rust.
Gary Russell Jr. hadn’t fought in 13 months, but needed little more than a minute into the second round Saturday night to defeat Ireland’s Patrick Hyland by technical knockout and retain his 126-pound world title at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
“We prepared for the duration of the fight, we were ready to go 12 rounds—long and hard if we had to,” said Russell (27-1, 16 KOs), who was defending the title he won from Jhonny Gonzalez in March 2015 for the first time. “We executed that with defense and discipline. We stuck to the game plan, we stayed sharp, stayed behind the jab, kept him at bay and were able to capitalize on his mistakes.”
Hyland (31-2, 15 KOs), who entered the ring dressed in Ireland’s famed emerald green, wasn't allowed time to make many mistakes.
Immediately after the opening bell the rangy Irishman came out aggressive, flicking some sharp jabs in hopes of proving he belonged in the same ring as Russell.
That confidence was short-lived.
Russell’s lightning-fast hands overwhelmed the challenger 40 seconds into the second round, before a vicious right hook put Hyland on the canvas for the first time in his career.
Just seconds later, another right hook by the 27-year-old southpaw put Hyland on his back once more. Another furious combo by Russell—which included a stinging left hand, followed by another right—ended Hyland’s night for good as referee Danny Schiavone waved off the bout at 1:33 of the second round.
“We put the work in the gym. We train hard,” Russell said. “I get cursed out just about every day by my dad [and trainer, Gary Russell Sr.]. I feel like the worst fighter sometimes leaving the gym.
“We are our worst critics. We push ourselves to the limit, that’s why we got the win tonight.”
Russell's second straight demolition of an opponent—he destroyed Gonzalez last year with a three-knockdown, fourth-round TKO—prompted the champion to call out some big names for his next opponent.
“We would love to get the fight against Lee Selby and unify [titles],” Russell said. “We would also love to face [titleholder] Leo Santa Cruz.
“But there is one opponent in particular that stands above the rest: Vasyl Lomachenko [who handed Russell his lone defeat in June 2014]. Please, if you’re watching this fight, Lomachenko, you got to see me. It’s going down.”
For a complete look at Russell vs Hyland, visit our fight page.