Gary Russell Jr. Still have time

The fact that WBC featherweight boxer Gary Russell (31-1, 18 KOs) has been inactive since winning the belt after beating Jhonny Gonzalez four rounds in 2015 has never obscured the reality of what happens when the bell rings. ring.

Russell, 2008 US Olympic athlete, wins.

All in all, that’s all Russell has done as a professional aside from a decisive loss to Vasyl Lomachenko in 2014. It’s not about winning. Russell’s talent is unquestionable. When last seen, he still had the two fastest arms in boxing, great legs, reflexes, intelligence and respectable strength.

What is missing is the lack of opportunities to win more. Six fights in seven years have become fodder for ridicule on social media. The final year of Russell’s life would have silenced some people around this time. The loss of a brother and his father’s ill health remind him that life happens outside of the ring.

This Saturday on Showtime (9pm EST), Russell puts the heaviest blows aside and just focuses on something he’s better at than most people in the world. Maybe it will be a relief. Regardless, it would be nice to see him back in the ring.

It’s hard to believe that Russell is still only 33. That’s not young at featherweight, but it’s not as old as he used to be in boxing either. Russell will attempt to defend his sixth title this weekend against undefeated 26-year-old Mark Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOs). Magsayo was ranked tenth by the Cross Country Boxing Rankings and fourth by The Ring.

This will be Russell’s third such ranked opponent in his last four starts, including a win over Joseph Diaz, who went on to claim the title at Jr. lightweight. and Tugsogt Nyambayar. The only underrated opponent in that segment, Kiko Martinez, was last seen winning the IBF featherweight belt with a Kid Galahad knockout.

Magsayo is a talented boxer and could surprise this weekend but most expect Russell to win. Assuming he does, what happens next for Russell?

It’s a question that still matters because Russell still has time to make it matter. Ignoring Martinez, with whom Russell stopped in five games, title spots in featherweight went to Leo Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KOs, WBA) and Emanuel Navarrate (35-1, 29 KOs, WBOs) ). Topping the WBC rankings is the former featherweight player Jr. Rey Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs).

Navarrete may not be an easy fight to create the gap between the PBC and Top Rank/ESPN affiliated fighters. Santa Cruz returns to action next month for the first time since losing to Gervonta Davis in 2020 and Vargas continues his career following an injury late last year.

Russell-Santa Cruz is one of the most obvious battles under the PBC umbrella that has yet to happen. It’s been there for years and hasn’t happened for whatever reason.

It stands in stark contrast to PBC’s in-house spins in the welterweight, middleweight Jr. and now featherweight Jr. The final division could also matter where Russell gets involved. Finally, the featherweights Jr. that would move four pounds north. Russell could still be there waiting.

Currently, Russell is 6-1 in the title match. If he only plays twice a year for the next three years, it could be 12-1 sooner. Those may not be startling numbers, but they’re nothing to scoff at either. Who Russell can get on the other side of the ring will determine the level of quality whatever he does in his career.

In 2022, Russell is a talented featherweight who won the belt. The right opponents can make him so much more.

Saturday is all Russell can deal with for now and Magsayo will have her say. For now, it’s suffice to note that Russell still has plenty of time on the side to make a statement about his peak playing time.

Cliff’s Notes…

Man in the Arena and Joe Montana: Cool Under Pressure are addictive TV series… Joseph Parker saying he’ll never fight Tyson Fury seems odd. Friends or not, if Fury defeats Usyk and unifies the squad, winning an undisputed crown seems like the thing to change your mind. Be you later… The great thing about pay-per-view boxing is that you don’t have to pay or watch. There’s too much boxing on TV to care about missing one person in one place or another… All the people named for George Kambosos have some credit to their case and none in particular. more deserving than others. George Kambosos wins the right to the best check available out of a handful of hot picks, and whoever doesn’t get it right there could get the next one.

Cliff Rold is the Executive Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rating Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Foundation, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.–163557 Gary Russell Jr. Still have time

Dustin Huang

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