WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (30-1, 18 KOs) showed no signs of rust when he outboxed and tagged former beltholder Kiko Martinez (39-9-2, 28 KOs) to a fifth round stoppage.
Since 2015, Russell has only had one fight per year. His last fight came practically a year ago, May 19, when he won a twelve round decision over Joseph Diaz.
Martinez was in action back in October, when he won the EBU title with a decision over Marc Vidal.
Russell started fast, shooting a fast jab to control Martinez in the first round. In the second, Russell was starting to put his punches together and was nailing the face of Martinez, who suffered a cut around the left eye. Martinez was staggered a few times from combinations.
During the third, Russell was letting his hand fly when Martinez came in close. It was one-way action from the champion until the final 20 seconds, when Martinez began to rally on the inside. Martinez continued to apply pressure on Russell in the fourth and fifth, but he was taking a lot of shots when coming inside.
The fight was stopped at the end of the fifth, as the cut above the eye of Martinez was deemed too severe.