Following a five-year absence, Kemahl 'The Hitman' Russell returned to the ring three times for a total of eleven rounds in 2023. Despite limited ring time, he claimed the Newcomer-of-the-Year award as a member of the Toronto-based ‘United Boxing Promotions’ stable, further reclaiming his reputation, as he climbs through the middleweight ranks.

As the name of the award suggests, the honour is awarded to the best first-year fighter. To determine the winner, boxers, who have competed during the current year, must first be nominated for the award, then votes are cast by fans, media, and promotional staff. Notwithstanding the other nominees, it was Russell who emerged winner through the 2023 selection process.

The official announcement was made on Thursday, December 28th, by United Boxing Promotion boss Tyler Buxton.

“Kemahl made a big impact in his first year, three fights with three knockouts, the Hitman is a fan favorite," Buxton said.

Russell, 34, has won 16 of 17 fights, scoring 14 knockouts in the process since turning professional in July of 2013. The highly-touted middleweight boxer, has built a reputation as a devastating puncher. For this year, he dominated all three of his fights leaving a succession of opponents on the canvas unable to continue.  

The Hitman’s first saw action in 2023 on April 29, against Argentina’s Marcos Jesus Cornejo (4KO), and then Mexico’s Juan Carlos Raygosa (4KO) on September 9. He closed out his year's campaign with a knockout win over former Mexican Champion Rafael Amarillas Ortiz (3KO) on December 2.

“I am pleased but not surprised that I won the award. I also think that I am deserving of it based on my performances throughout the year,” said Russell.

“I mean what I said and said what I mean, I did exactly what I said I was going to do throughout the year," he added.

Russell has been training with Grant’s MMA, under the watchful eye of trainer and owner Ryan ‘RG’ Grant. Grant shared that the award sets the stage for his charge heading into the New Year.

“Onward and upward from here, he had a monster year, he looked really good getting back into the swing of things after being off for a period of time," Grant noted.

And as it relates to his expectation for Russell in the coming year, Grant has set bit targets.

“The middleweight division is open, so a huge move can be made in 2024 to take the division over," he declared.

Buxton echoed Grant’s sentiment.

“I expect Kemahl to be in the top 15 by the end of 2024."

The expectations from trainer and promoter can be overwhelming for some, but a confident Russell embraces the moment while he is on the cusp of ushering in the next chapter of his career. 

“The ring rust is gone now so every time out, I feel stronger and faster. I moved through the middleweight rankings, made a mark and gained new fans. Next year, will be even more exciting," Russell said.

The Newcomer-of-the-Year award not only recognizes another achievement in the career of Russell, but also sets the stage for even bigger things in the coming year. With anticipation mounting as he climbs through the rankings, Buxton promised that 2024 fight news would be coming soon.


Confident predictions still hold weight in boxing as Kemahl ‘The Hitman’ Russell, now 16-1 with 14 knockouts, delivered on his pre-fight prediction by flawlessly channeling the legendary Muhammad Ali on route to a third-round knockout of his Mexican opponent at the Pickering Casino Resort Arena on Saturday night.

Facing off against the formidable Mexican champion Raffle ‘El Iraki’ Ortiz (16-6-1, 9KOs) who has a reputation for his resilience, Russell entered the ring determined to make a statement. Amidst his pre-fight media obligations, ‘The Hitman’ boldly declared to SportsMax.TV, "I expect to get this guy outta there by the third round,' evoking memories of Muhammad Ali who was renowned for his brash pre-fight predictions.

“I told everyone I was going to stop him and I was a man of my word. Just like my last fight, I knew it was going to be a short night because he (Ortiz) does not move his feet or his head and everyone in boxing knows the saying - if you don't move your head, someone will move it for you.”

As the fight commenced - Russell was in absolute control, further fueling the already electric atmosphere within the arena from his growing fanbase. Ortiz, a southpaw and physically bigger, pressed forward in a high guard which he used to try to engage but ‘The Hitman’ would not allow him to dictate the terms. With a display of superior footwork and an educated left Jab, Russell neutralized Ortiz by circling the perimeter and stepping at angles to nullify the Mexican Champion’s tactics in an overall uneventful round-one.



Then came the onslaught.

After another brief feeling out process, Russell’s superior timing and ring ‘IQ’ became apparent in round-two. As Russell’s confidence grew behind a jab that always seemed to find its mark, he then gathered himself and threw a flurry of well-timed looping punches from angles that put Ortiz off-balance.

Sensing that his opponent was hurt, ‘The Hitman’ used the opportunity to entertain by winding-up a bolo punch in the form of a windmill that traveled a long way before finding a home on Otiz’s chin. A series of uppercuts followed and then a short right cross from Russell dropped Ortiz to the canvas just before the bell.

When the third round began, it seemed as if fate had conspired to validate ‘The Hitman’s’ bold words. In a no-nonsense mood, Russell marched across the ring and delivered a bruising lesson in the sweet science, dropping Ortiz for the final time. The referee quickly intervened, declaring the match over and awarding the knockout victory to ‘The Hitman’. After the final bell, Russell placed himself in the center of the ring and acknowledged the audience at all points in triumph while taking a dramatic solo bow.

In the post-fight interview - with humility and respect, the 33-year-old Russell acknowledged the influence of Muhammad Ali, stating, "Ali was always an inspiration to me - but predicting a knockout and making it happen was just me setting high standards for myself and daring to be great. I felt strong and sharp, I feel like my old self again. I was at 100 per cent in this fight and that is not normal for me - I usually have some type of injury going into fights but this time everything was perfect.”



 The bout attracted attention from a broad spectrum of boxing fans. In Toronto, the Pickering Casino Resort Arena was sold out by the time Russell entered the ring. While in Jamaica the event also drew special attention by being broadcasted live which prompted a watch party in support of the boxer. “I want to say to the Jamaican people that I represented for them, wearing our colors on my gear and showing that a boxer straight out of yard, can make it to the top. I am Jamaican born and raised.”

Russell is signed to United Boxing Promotions - ‘United’ boss Tyler Buxton added that he is “very pleased” with Russell’s performance - “he stole the show again!” “For sure he's a fan favorite here in Toronto after only three fights.”

When asked what's next for Russell, Buxton stated that himself and ‘Team Hitman’ will sit down and discuss what's best for the boxer moving forward. Russell, a bit less conservative has hinted that he eagerly awaits a fight that will rank him amongst the top 10 in the world.

The heavy hands of Ricardo ‘Big 12’ Brown, also delivered an impressive performance by knocking out his opponent in the first round.

This win moves Brown, 33, of Spanish Town, Jamaica, already flawless knockout streak to 10 for 10. Additionally, the win positioned Brown as one of boxing's rising stars in the heavyweight division. With both Jamaican fighters showcasing their skills on the global stage, it's clear that Jamaica can once again become a force to be reckoned with in world boxing.






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