Tonight at 11:00 pm EDT on Showtime, two world titles are on the line as Gary Russell Jr defends the WBC featherweight belt against Patrick Hyland, and Jose Pedraza defends the IBF super featherweight title against Stephen Smith.
Russell (26-1, 15 KO) is fighting for the first time in 13 months, after knocking out Jhonny Gonzalez to win the belt. He's had two fights canceled or postponed in November and March, and is now ready to get back to it. Hyland (31-1, 15 KO) is not considered a serious contender, but he was solid in his lone real test back in 2012 against Javier Fortuna.
Pedraza (21-0, 12 KO) is coming off of a questionable win over Edner Cherry last October, and now has to face Smith (23-1, 13 KO), who's coming over from the UK and hoping to be the second of the four Smith brothers from Liverpool to win a world title. It's an evenly-matched fight on paper.
* * * * *
Gary Russell Jr def. Patrick Hyland by TKO (1:33 of round 2)
Jose Pedraza def. Stephen Smith by unanimous decision (117-110, 116-111, 116-111)
* * * * *
ROUND BY ROUND
GARY RUSSELL JR vs PATRICK HYLAND
Round 1: Russell's hand speed on display. Gary strays a bit low on a body shot, not wildly low, but low. Hyland looks totally present, but Russell's hand speed is giving him serious issues as the round goes on, as expected. Russell 10-9
Round 2: Vicious right hook and Hyland goes down 45 seconds into the second round. Russell pouncing once action resumes. Hyland down again. This might not last much longer. It goes on. Another straight left, another knockdown, and it's over. Russell TKO-2
JOSE PEDRAZA vs STEPHEN SMITH
Round 1: Decent first round. Sparse attendance. Smith lands a good right early on, but Pedraza got aggressive later and the round wound up pretty even. Smith 10-9
Round 2: Pedraza with a good shot early in the round, and he's looking to make something of that. Pedraza with a nice counter shot after Smith misses an uppercut. Sniper looking better this round. His right hand is landing consistently. Again it gets in. Smith getting cracked here. Some decent body shots, too. Pedraza's jab also working. Really nice round for Pedraza. Pedraza 10-9, 19-19
Round 3: Smith going to the body here. Pedraza's jab is a really sharp weapon so far. He's employed that very nicely. Good lead right to the body from Pedraza. Good counter uppercut from Smith. Smith doing better here later in the round. Fight's developing pretty nicely right now. Back to the jab from Pedraza. Pedraza 10-9, 29-28
Round 4: Really liking Pedraza's jab so far tonight. It's forming a mouse under Smith's eye. He's looking smooth in this one. Smith with a nice rally in this round, though, and he's hanging in here. It seems like Pedraza's doing better work overall, but Smith got his jab going in this round and even outjabbed Pedraza. Smith 10-9, 38-38
Round 5: Not a tense fight at all so far, but interesting. Pedraza with a nice little straight right. Smith's jab is working again, though. Pedraza back with another right. Pedraza not controlling distance like he did earlier, but he nicks the round. Pedraza 10-9, 48-47
Round 6: Both guys picking up the pace here as we hit the halfway mark. Smith's hook getting involved more. Pedraza's jab still working, though. Pedraza moving his head very nicely. Smith throwing with both hands but Pedraza slipping some shots. Pedraza with some nice D on display this round, and still winning the fight offensively. Pedraza 10-9, 58-56
Round 7: Pedraza trying to set some traps in this round. Good little exchange halfway into the round, Smith landing a hook and a right hand moments later. Smith gets clipped with a good shot late in the round. This has been an interesting fight. Pedraza 10-9, 68-65
Round 8: Better round here for Smith, Pedraza laying off a bit much for my liking. Smith gets the jab and right hand working again. This hasn't been a thriller, but it's a close, competitive fight, as expected. Smith 10-9, Pedraza 77-75
Round 9: About a minute and change in, Smith gets clipped and goes down on a right hand! Smith recovers OK, but a 10-8 round is not what he needed here, to be certain, and Pedraza fairly well dominated this round anyway. Pedraza 10-8, 87-83
Round 10: Pedraza staying on the attack in the first minute of round 10. Smith needs to start working here, but maybe he just can't. Smith swarming some later in the round, but Pedraza still landing body shots in the midst of that. Pedraza 10-9, 97-92
Round 11: Pedraza continuing to do solid work. Back to the body, the jab is still working, and defensively he's continuing to do a good job. He's just been better than Smith, and it's been a style matchup that has really favored the Sniper tonight. Pedraza 10-9, 107-101
Round 12: Smith definitely fighting like he needs the round, but not having much success landing that big shot he likely needs. And he hasn't really been able to hurt Pedraza at all, as Bernstein points out. Some trading down the stretch of this round, both guys landing decent shots. Smith 10-9, Pedraza 116-111