No one could dispute Gary Antuanne Russell’s knockout victory Saturday night.

His previous two opponents – Viktor Postol and Rances Barthelemy – complained that their fights with Russell were stopped prematurely. Kent Cruz couldn’t make a similar complaint after Russell sent him to the canvas twice and knocked him out in the first round of their scheduled 10-round, 140-pound bout at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Russell (17-0, 17 KOs), of nearby Capitol Heights, Maryland, was declared the winner at 2:39 of the opening round. Showtime televised Russell’s impressive victory as its co-feature before Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nicaragua’s Melvin Lopez fought in the 12-round main event for the unclaimed IBF bantamweight title.

St. Louis’ Cruz, who lost for the first time as a professional (16-1-3, 10 KOs), came in 2.6 pounds overweight Friday afternoon.

On Saturday night, Cruz complained to referee Bill Clancy while tied up with Russell following a clash of heads after the halfway point of the first round. By taking his attention away from Russell, Cruz allowed Russell to hit him with three flush punches that sent him to one knee with 1:14 on the clock in the first round.

Cruz got up, but Russell then landed a left to Cruz’s body that sent him to the canvas again with 32 seconds to go in the first round. Cruz couldn’t beat Clancy’s count after that second knockdown, which led to Russell’s 17th knockout.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.