A nasty headbutt forces a disappointing end in opening round of Emmanuel Rodriguez v Gary Antonio Russell
What can be described as a crossroads bout takes place at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California as former IBF world bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-2, 12 KOs) square off against Gary Antonio Russell (18-0, 12 KOs) in a WBA world Bantamweight title eliminator.
The 29-year-old from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico first became a world champ when he defeated Paul Butler to win the IBF belt. Following one successful defense, he ran into the “Monster”, Naoya Inoue in May of 2019. “Manny” Rodriguez was destroyed in two rounds.
Rodriguez has redemption as well as world title aspirations on his mind. In his last bout, he lost by split decision to Filipino Reymart Gaballo in December of 2020 for the WBC ‘‘interim’ world bantamweight title. So controversial was the decision that the WBC ordered an immediate rematch.
He is facing a Russell who is a 118 pound fighter quickly on the rise. The talented 28-year-old from Capitol Heights, Maryland is the younger brother of current WBC world featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. With Rodriguez ranked third and Russell ranked second by the WBA, the winner moves in line for a world title shot.
OVER IN A BLINK OF AN EYE
What looked to be one of the best fights on the card turned into bitter disappointment. Sixteen seconds into the opening round, Rodriguez went down from a nasty head clash between the two. He was badly bleeding from the nose and in severe pain. The Puerto Rican was in too much discomfort to continue and referee Sharon Sands quickly stepped in and called a halt to the fight.
Frustrated by how the fight ended, both Russell and Rodriguez said they hope to fight each other again. Fans surely hope the same.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.