By: William Holmes
Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions presented a night of championship boxing from the Joint at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada as Gary Russell Jr. took on Vyacheslav Gusev in the featherweight division and Richar Abril fought Sharif Bogere for the WBA Lightweight title.
The first bout of the night was between American Gary Russell Jr. (21-0) and Russian boxer Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2) in the featherweight division. If Gary Russell was looking to silence his critics for facing weak opposition, he did not do so tonight.
From the opening round, it was clear that Russell had the superior hand speed and technique, and Gusev looked timid inside the ring. Gusev only had five stoppages during his career, and it was evident that Russell was not worried about Gusev’s power at all.
Russell came out in his southpaw stance, peppered Gusev with his jab and used his superior movement to stay out of trouble. Russell rocked Gusev with a right hook at the end of the round that wobbled his opponent. In the third round, Russell scored a knockdown when he landed a crisp counter right uppercut that caused Gusev’s glove to touch the ground .
Russell said following the fight that he injured his left hand in the fourth round: this was evident as he barely threw it towards the later rounds. But he was never in trouble and picked Gusev apart. At the end of the eighth round, Russell had to have one of his gloves removed because the lacing came undone.
At the end of the fight it was clear that Gary Russell Jr. scored a clean sweep and all three judges scored it 100-89. It was a complete domination and Gusev only landed two jabs in all ten rounds combined.
The main event was between Cuban boxer Richar Abril (17-3) and Ugandan boxer Sharif Bogere (23-0) for the WBA Lightweight title. Sharif Bogere, as advertised, came out to the ring being carried in a cage by bare-chested men while wearing a lion’s outfit.
Abril towered over Bogere inside the ring, and his height and reach advantage gave Bogere significant problems. Abril started off strong in the first round with a three-punch combination and Bogere resorted to throwing rabbit punches. Bogere threw Abril to the ground in the first round as he tried to charge in, and another entanglement happened in the second round that ended with Abril getting tossed to the ground.
This was a very difficult fight to score, as Abril stayed on the outside using his jab and Bogere threw wild punches and head-butted Abril several times. A clash of heads opened up a cut over the right eye of Abril in the sixth round, but Bogere also landed his best punch of the night with an overhand right. Abril was warned several times by the referee for holding and was deducted a point in the eighth round for it.
Bogere appeared to tire in the ninth round as Abril continued to pop shot Bogere from the outside with crisp punches. Bogere fell in the tenth round after attempting unsuccessfully to swarm Abril. Quite simply, Bogere had no answer for Abril’s long reach.
This was an ugly fight and Abril pulled away in the championship rounds. Bogere was deducted a point for head-butting in the last round, but it did not cost him the fight as he was already on the scorecards.
The final scores were 115-111, 116-110, 116-110 for Richar Abril.
Following the fight, a subdued Bogere observed that while it was a close contest, “I thought I did enough to win.”
Abril was elated with the win but complained about Bogere’s “dirty tactics,” and told Jim Gray that he would like to face rising American Adrien Broner, who was in the audience for this fight, next, “as long as it’s not a dirty fight like this one.”