Tonight at 10 pm EST, Showtime has a doubleheader from the Palms in Las vegas, with Jhonny Gonzalez headlining against Gary Russell Jr for the WBC featherweight title, and Jermell Charlo and Vanes Martirosyan in a pivotal 154-pound showdown.
Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KO) is making the third defense of the title he won in 2013 from Abner Mares, and Russell (25-1, 14 KO) is his first serious challenger he'll have faced. Russell finally took his own step up in competition last year and was outclassed by Vasyl Lomachenko, but he did come back with a shutout win over Christopher Martin in December.
Charlo (25-0, 11 KO) is the twin with less knockout power, if you confuse the two of them, but also the twin considered by most observers, it seems, as the better prospect. Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 KO) is a quality operator himself, and in a fairly open 154-pound class, this is a fight that could be very important for the winner.
BLH will have live coverage of both fights, with round-by-round notes and scoring within the post.
* * * * * * * * * * *
JERMELL CHARLO vs VANES MARTIROSYAN ROUND-BY-ROUND COVERAGE
Round 1: First 30 seconds are a little bit of pawing. Charlo flicking out a jab. Martirosyan feinting in but not letting go. Right to the body from Martirosyan, lunges with a left after, Charlo ties him up. Martirosyan counters a jab with a jab. Right to the body from Vanes. Charlo fires a shot back. Charlo poking another jab. Right hand from Charlo, then a left hook after it, both glancing blows but clean. Good right hand again from Charlo. Vanes back to the body with a right hand, then one upstairs. Martirosyan throws punches to end the round, lands nothing. Decent opening round for both. Martirosyan 10-9
Round 2: Charlo leads with a double jab. Right hand down the pipe from Charlo. Vanes moving forward but waiting. Left hook to the body from Vanes. Mora thinks it was low. It wasn't -- wait, no, Charlo wanted to get Mora to think it was low. Mora did not. So he stopped the action to tell Charlo it was a clean blow. That's kind of him. Very informative. Right hand to the body from Vanes. He's looking downstairs a good amount. Vanes gets a right hand in. Martirosyan 10-9, 20-18
Round 3: Charlo looking to throw a bit more as he comes out for the third, letting both hands go, but Vanes is happy to trade with him, it appears, and try to time him by throwing with him. Left pops Vanes on the forehead, Charlo follows with a right that glances and Martirosyan ties him up. Vanes lets his hands go, Charlo comes back with a counter right. Right hand again from Charlo as Vanes looks to throw. Another hard body shot from Vanes, that's been his best weapon so far. Good, close round. This has been a well-matched fight. Charlo with a left hand, Vanes gets aggressive after that but Charlo takes the round. Charlo 10-9, Martirosyan 29-28
Round 4: Both guys jabbing in the first minute. Right hand from Charlo. Another right from Charlo. He's starting to land that very effectively, he's getting it off before Vanes can react. Martirosyan throws a right to the body again, but this time Charlo steps back and avoids the shot. I like what Charlo is doing now, really moving and punching well, instead of just one or the other. Body shot from Vanes. Charlo 10-9, 38-38
Round 5: Charlo jabbing again to start the round, setting the tone. Fight's pace is slowing just a bit. Martirosyan with a right hand down the middle on a 1-2. Charlo with more jabs, a lot of those being picked off by Vanes. Right hand from Martirosyan lands upstairs. Charlo wings a crazy right hand after ducking under one from Vanes, neither landing. Charlo jabbing. No one has the momentum right now. Vanes looking to land a counter hook. Charlo 10-9, 48-47
Round 6: Charlo out with a jab once again. There's a hook from Charlo. Martirosyan looking to pick it up early here, maybe lead the action a bit more. This is really a chess match sort of fight, and has been pure tactical stuff from both sides. Charlo's jab is sort of controlling the tempo now, and that may be him finally truly seizing the momentum in this fight. If Vanes can't start getting past that more often, he's heading the wrong way for sure. Charlo moving really well this round as Vanes tries to cut off the ring. Charlo 10-9, 58-56
Round 7: Vanes slips in the majority of a right hand, but Charlo takes it and looks to use his hand speed advantage again. Charlo back with a right hand of his own. Hard jab from Charlo. Martirosyan counters Charlo's jab, and Charlo counters the counter with a right hand. Right hand from Vanes, and then another gets in. Vanes getting more done in this round than he has in the last couple for sure. Charlo is still using the jab nicely, but Vanes had his best round since the third at least. Martirosyan 10-9, Charlo 67-66
Round 8: Heads clash about 40 seconds into the round and there's a small cut on Martirosyan's eyebrow, over his left eye. It's been an issue for him before. Martirosyan cut on a headbutt. Martirosyan saying he can’t see. Doctor kinda trying to talk him into continuing but…hm. Well, they're going to continue even though Vanes says he can't see -- "very blurry," clearly wasn't following the finger. Martirosyan comes out with pep in his step after that. Bernstein says there's no official ruling that the cut came from a clash of heads. Right hand from Charlo misses. Nobody really landing, Vanes hopping around like he wants to be aggressive but not throwing much. There's a lead right from Vanes, and Charlo with a counter shot after. Charlo with a right hand as they both get a little wild. And the ruling is officially a clash of heads. Martirosyan 10-9, 76-76
Round 9: Charlo looking for the jab again, Martirosyan not as active now. Another clash of heads, and Mora warns Vanes for straying low with his punches. Vanes remembers the body again, but not a consistent enough attack. Charlo really did well to adjust and move more after that worked for Vanes early. Right hand from Charlo lands. Left hook from Martirosyan. Right to the body again from Martirosyan. Charlo misses a wild right hand, Martirosyan scores with a counter shot to the body. Vanes is getting back to the body. Interesting round and an interesting fight. Martirosyan 10-9, 86-85
Round 10: Martirosyan with a right hand, Charlo coming back with one of his own. Two minutes to go and both guys looking to make an impression here, and definitely need to. The fight is too close for anyone to believe they have it won. Right cross from Charlo. Vanes misses a 1-2. A minute left. Charlo slips a hook in, but misses a right after. 30 seconds and this round is up for grabs, I think. Right hand from Vanes. Vanes coming forward with a combo, maybe not landing, but more than Charlo did there. Vanes glances with another right. I think he won this. Martirosyan 10-9, 96-94
Unofficial Scores: 96-94 Martirosyan (Scott Christ, BLH), 95-95 (Steve Farhood, Showtime)
Official Scores: 97-93 Charlo (Adelaide Byrd), 96-94 Charlo (Lisa Giampa), 96-94 Charlo (Dave Moretti)
Verdict: Jermell Charlo by unanimous decision
* * * * * * * * * *
JHONNY GONZALEZ vs GARY RUSSELL JR ROUND-BY-ROUND COVERAGE
Round 1: Russell throwing his fast shots to start the fight. Flicking his jab out early, two and three at a time. Left hand doesn't get home, but it's more activity. Gonzalez doing nothing in the first minute, looking to gauge Russell's speed and habits. Russell using his speed and feet to totally control the first two and a half minutes. Jhonny reaching with his left a bit, but not much else. All but a default round to Russell. Russell 10-9
Round 2: Gonzalez still looking tentative in the first minute of this round. Russell not landing as much either, but at least shoving his hands toward Gonzalez. Really nobody's landing anything of any consequence. Gonzalez looks for a left hook but comes up short. Or long. Comes up long. Russell ducked under it and tied him up quickly. Gonzalez got closer in this round but still didn't take it. Russell 10-9, 20-18
Round 3: Russell with a little nothing left. But it's a thing. Gonzalez can't get anything done on offense. He's too slow, his feet are too slow, and he's looking at Russell's feet too often. Biting on feints, getting pit-a-pat punched to death. There's a counter right hook from Russell, and DOWN GOES GONZALEZ! Pit-a-pat my ass! Ha! Right before the end of the round, too. Great timing on that shot, caught Gonzalez lunging. Russell 10-8, 30-26
Round 4: Gonzalez down again early in the 4th. He’s looking done. Gonzalez down again, Tony Weeks stops it.
Verdict: Gary Russell Jr TKO-4