Gary Russell Jr. And Rey Vargas Agree To Fight Terms
By: Hans Themistode
In what fans have grown accustomed to hearing from Gary Russell Jr., the WBC featherweight titlist will face a mandatory challenger. This time, in the form of Rey Vargas, the former super bantamweight world champion. Both sides have agreed to a deal and have avoided a purse bid.
Presently, no date or venue has been officially named but fans are preparing for the long-reigning champion to appear in the ring only once this year. If so, this would be Russell Jr.’s seventh straight year doing so.
For the vast majority of his elongated title reign, Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs) has only competed once per year against his mandatory challengers. Keeping such a schedule has allowed him to fulfill the obligations of the WBC sanctioning body but it has frustrated the fans of the talented fighter as they continually hope to see him more.
In his last ring appearance, the Maryland resident easily outboxed Tugstsogt Nyambayar over the course of 12 rounds. The now 32-year-old may not be active in the ring but that hasn’t stopped him from making the rounds on social media as he has continues to call out numerous fighters.
Amongst those on his Hitlist, have been WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney and WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford.
As for Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs), his time outside of the ring could reach two years by the time he officially takes on Russell Jr. The former 122-pound champion dealt with a broken leg and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Before his long stretch of inactivity, Vargas dominated his competition.
While he could have opted to stay at 122 pounds, Vargas found the opportunity to become a two-division world champion more appealing and became Russell Jr.’s immediate mandatory when he moved up in weight earlier this year.
Gary Russell Jr: “I Won’t Water The Sport Down By Fighting A Complete Bum”
By: Hans Themistode
As is the case with most of the world, a daily alarm clock rings which signals the time to get up and get ready for work. Yet, in the case of current WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr., he’s only been forced to clock in for his shift once a year.
The now 32-year-old is normally loquacious when asked a question. However, he struggles to pinpoint exactly the last time he has stepped into the ring more than just once.
“I don’t remember man,” said Russell Jr. during a recent interview with Brian Custer on The Last Stand Podcast.
In just a few more days, the official answer to that question will be seven years. A figure that leaves fans of Russell Jr. apoplectic. The long stretches of inactivity have never quite made sense to several inside boxing circles. Rarely does the Maryland resident suffer any abrasions when he does compete, nor does he have any setbacks during his training camps.
Still, year after year, Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs) saunters his way to the ring, puts on an eye-catching performance, and disappears into a cloud of smoke for another year, leaving fans wanting to see more. The fan’s desire to see the long-reigning belt holder in the ring more often is a feeling he shares as well. With that being said, his willingness to step into the ring on a more consistent basis simply isn’t something that he believes will be conducive to the sport.
“I think the reason why you only see me once a year is because a lot of these fighters, managers and promoters don’t feel as though it’s in their best interest to put their fighters in the ring with me and I refuse to water the sport down. I won’t water the sport down by fighting a complete bum or somebody that they know I’m going to beat up. I believe that the best should fight the best. These guys need good matchmakers, that’s the difference, I don’t but I would love to step into the ring more than once a year.”
Matchups against the likes of Leo Santa Cruz, Josh Warrington, Devin Haney and Gervonta Davis have been on the forefront of Russell Jr.’s mind. Despite consistently calling for those showdowns to be made, Russell Jr.’s request has yet to come true which has ultimately left him on the sidelines year after year.
While waiting for one of his more attractive bouts to materialize, Russell Jr. has only made the trek to the ring in order to face his mandated title challengers. To the fans, fighters such as Tugstsogt Nyambayar, Joseph Diaz and others, aren’t names that completely resonate with them. But to Russell Jr., he believes that if you simply took the time to check their track record, then you would notice that they were all worthy challengers.
“The mandatories are the next best guys after the champions,” explained Russell Jr. “The mandatories have to beat everybody in order to be the number one contender to challenge the champion for the title. Look at Jo Jo Diaz, he became a world champion by beating Tevin Farmer’s ass good. It was a whitewash when I fought him. I made it look easy. That’s no disrespect to Jo Jo but that just goes to show the talent and skillset that I’ve been going against.”
“King Tug was a helluva fighter. I would like to see a Leo Santa Cruz or one of these guys fight a King Tug. I think it would be an interesting fight. Actually, King Tug beat the guy who Shakur Stevenson lost to in the Olympics. Shakur lost to him in the Olympics and King Tut beat him in the pros. So that speaks volumes to the guys that I’m competing against. I rather face a mandatory challenger than face a regular Joe blow and knock somebody out. Who does that?”
For now, it’s unclear whether or not Russell Jr.’s wish to face one of the division’s top names will be granted or whether he will be forced to once again take on another mandatory challenger. Regardless of the opponent though, the Maryland native will undoubtedly step into the ring with an increased amount of rage and motivation.
Roughly two weeks ago, Russell Jr.’s younger brother, Gary Boosa Russell, passed away due to an unexpected heart attack. The loss of his younger brother has left him incredibly hurt, amongst other emotions. But while the pain was etched across his face, Russell Jr. took the time to warn whoever is the unlucky soul that will face him sometime in 2021.
“I’m so frustrated, hurt – I got so many different emotions going on and I got it all bottled up. Somebody gotta get this shit. Whoever my next opponent is it doesn’t matter.”
Gary Russell Jr On Devin Haney’s Recent Performance: “Jump In That Water With Me And You Will Get Eaten Alive”
By: Hans Themistode
WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. has made his dislike for WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney well known. Despite being separated by two weight classes, the Maryland native has called for a showdown between the two for several months.
Both parties were reportedly never close to an actual deal materializing and the moment their contest fell apart, each side pointed a blaming finger at the other.
With their matchup off the table for the time being, Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) defended his title against former multiple division champion Yuriorkis Gamboa this past weekend. Outside of one round on one judge’s scorecards, it was a clean sweep for Haney. Following the win, the 21 year old was pleased with pitching a shutout. For Russell Jr. however, he was far from impressed.
“Devin boy, you did all this mother fucking talking and you looked like some shit,” said Russell Jr. on his social media account. “That was the most boring fight ever. I don’t know why people paid their money to see that shit. That was ridiculous. You know that was unsatisfactory. No one wanted to see that boring ass shit. You look like a professional amateur.”
Much of the feud between both Haney and Russell Jr. played out in the public eye. The 31 year old featherweight belt holder expressed his frustrations for his lack of a big fight over the years. That in turn has pushed him to step inside of the ring only once a year for the past six years. His lack of activity though, is through no fault of his own but rather because several notable fighters in his division refuse to fight him.
With no contest he believes worth his time, Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs) made his interest in facing Haney known. It didn’t take long for team Haney to respond. A contract was sent to Russell Jr. soon after, but after having his legal team take a closer look, he opted against signing it.
That decision seemed to be a sagacious one, but after watching Haney in the ring this past weekend, Russell Jr. is kicking himself over his choice.
“Y’all knew exactly what y’all was doing by sending that bull shit ass term sheet over. Nobody in their right mind would have signed it but the way that this looks out, I should have signed it just to beat his mother fucking ass. If y’all had sent some correct shit, I would have put you over my knee and spank that ass.”
At the moment, Haney has turned his full attention towards a showdown with undisputed lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez. Russell Jr. on the other hand, has quietly looked into the possibility of facing off against WBC Jr lightweight champion Miguel Berchelt.
It’s unclear if either man gets the opponent they seek next. Regardless of their paths heading in different directions, Russell Jr. has no issue with changing course and facing Haney. If their contest does in fact take place, the tactics which Haney utilized against Gamboa would lead to a long night for the 21 year old.
“That shit that you was doing would never fly with a Mr. Gary Russell Jr. Jump in that water with me and you will get eaten alive.”
Gary Russell Jr: “I’ll Fight Adrien Broner”
By: Hans Themistode
Gary Russell Jr’s featherweight title reign has been mired in both greatness and disappointment. The five year WBC belt holder has consistently dazzled his fans with jaw dropping performances, but has also habitually shown up to work just one time per year.
The Maryland native has failed to make more than one ring appearance during his championship reign, and with a February title defense against Tugstsogt Nyambayar, there is reason to believe that he has already completed his yearly obligations.
The opportunity to pad both his bank account and fight record with shoddy opponents are on the table. But nothing about that statement interests Russell Jr. Names such as Leo Santa Cruz and Josh Warrington on the other hand, gets his motor going.
Yet for those aforementioned fighters however, their motor seems to stall whenever his name is spoken.
“We gotta get one of these suckers to say they wanna fight me. I’m willing to fight anybody,” said Russell Jr. in an interview with Barbershop Conversations.
Fighting anyone, apparently branches out far beyond the land of 126 pounders. With no big name opponents in sight, Russell has turned his attention towards another weight division. Moving up one or even two weight classes won’t bring the sort of names to the table that he is looking for. So instead, Russell Jr. is not only eyeing a move to 140 pounds, but he also had an opponent an opponent in mind.
“I had a conversation with Al, and I told him that I will move up in weight. I’m not getting any fights in the weight division that I’m in. I wouldn’t mind moving up to 140, I’ll fight Adrien Broner if he wanted. Al told me that he reached out to Adrien and gave him the opportunity to take the fight but for whatever reason he turned it down. So again, from 126 all the way up to 140, you got suckers ducking, point blank period.”
For Broner, he’s been sitting on the shelf for over a year and a half. Following losses to Mikey Garcia and Manny Pacquiao with a majority decision draw against Jessie Vargas sandwiched in between, Broner has traded in his boxing gloves for a microphone as he has been focusing on his rap career.
The former four division world champion has made numerous claims over the past few months that he would be willing to leave the recording studio to enter the gym, provided of course, he was compensated with ten million dollars for his efforts.
While it’s unclear if his money demands will be met, Russell Jr. is offering Broner something else. A big time opportunity.
“He ain’t had a relevant fight in I don’t know how long. He lost his last what? Three or four fights and split draw with the other dude? Come on man. I believe in my skillset and talent no matter what weight division I’m fighting in.”
What’s Next For Shakur Stevenson?
By: Hans Themistode
Shakur Stevenson told the press exactly what was going to happen in his matchup against Felix Caraballo. “I see a lot of holes in his game,” said Stevenson during a media call before his fight. “I’m going to expose him.”
Stevenson did just that.
Forget about the phrase “throwing the kitchen sink,” Stevenson threw every piece of furniture that he has at Caraballo. And it worked. Stopping his man in the sixth round due to a body shot.
Before Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs) even stepped into the ring, a win was a formality. So now that he’s kept the COVID-19 inducing ring rust off, where does he go next? Keep reading to find out.
For most of Josh Warrington’s (30-0, 7 KOs) career, it was his gritty style and never quit attitude that made him a fan favorite. He wasn’t the most talented fighter around, but he always found a way to win. Those sort of fighters always make for a good story, but seldom do they develop into one of the best fighters in the world.
In the case of Warrington though, that is exactly what happened. His majority decision victory over Kiko Martinez in 2017 turned a few heads. But it was his wins over Lee Selby and Carl Frampton one year later, that made everyone take notice at what they were looking at. He is a bonafide great fighter and has the sort of will power that won’t allow him to quit.
The argument could be made that he is the best fighter in the Featherweight division. However, whenever the words “best fighter” is used and Shakur Stevenson’s name isn’t brought up, he’s going to take umbrage to it.
The two have been in discussion to take each other’s 0 since early last year. Before Stevenson’s one sided beatdown of Caraballo, promoter Bob Arum mentioned that he will absolutely attempt to make their unification contest a reality.
Gary Russell Jr
For as great as WBC Featherweight champion Gary Russel Jr. is, he has a tendency of staying out of the ring for long stretches. Reason being is no one wants to fight him. At least according to Russell (31-1, 18 KOs). For the past 6 years, Russell has competed inside of the ring just one time on average. It isn’t much, but when he does show up, he always leaves a lasting impression.
The WBC belt holder hasn’t exactly heard his name mentioned by any of the other big name fighters. Call it a lack of interest, or a fear of losing, the point remains the same. Not many fighters are itching to face Russell. But Shakur Stevenson isn’t like many fighters.
“That would be a hell of fight, me and Gary,” said Stevenson before his fight with Caraballo. “I really believe we are the two most skillful fighters in the division. That would be a hell of a fight.”
If boxing fans had their way, then this would be the matchup that happens next.
Showtime Boxing Results: Gary Russell Jr. Blasts Through Gonzalez, Charlo Decisions Martirosyan
By: William Holmes
The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada was the host site for tonight’s Showtime Championship Boxing telecast that featured two televised bouts. Showtime had showed earlier in the day a welterweight bout (via a Sky Sports feed from Sheffield, England) between Jo Jo Dan and Kell Brook in Sheffield, England in which Brook emerged victorious.
Jermell Charlo (25-0) and Vanes Martirosyan (35-1-1) opened up tonight’s broadcast in a junior middleweight bout.
Martirosyan and Charlo were former sparring partners, and it was evident throughout the fight that both boxers were very familiar with each other. Martirosyan was sharp with his jab in the first round and aggressive early on and put Charlo on the defensive.
Martirosyan focused his punches on the body in the early rounds and at one point in the second round, Charlo complained that one of the punches had landed low. Martirosyan had a good third round that featured hard left hooks to the body, but Charlo begain to open up at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth.
Charlo’s straight right hand began landing in the fourth round and his left hand was more active and accurate in the second half of the fight. Martirosyan slipped to the mat in the sixth round and Charlo’s nose was starting to trickle blood in the seventh round.
Most of the middle rounds were close, but Charlo seemed to be more in control and composed. An accidental clash of heads opened up a cut over Martirosyan’s left eye in the eighth round that forced a short stoppage to allow the ringside doctor to talk with Martirosyan.
Martirosyan could be heard clearly saying he couldn’t open his left eye and this his vision was blurry, but somewhat surprisingly, the ringside doctor gave Martirosyan the option to continue and Martirosyan decided to go on. Martirosyan came out aggressive after the break, but most of his power shots were slipped by the dodged by his opponent.
Charlo simply outlanded Martirosyan in the final two rounds and his victory was punctuated by a strong right cross in the final round.
The final scores were 97-93, 96-94, and 96-94 for Jermell Charlo.
The main event of the night was between Jhonny Gonzalez (57-8) and Garry Russell Jr. (24-1) for the WBC Featherweight Title.
Gonzalez was seven years older than Russell, but he had a significant height and reach advantage. Russell, a southpaw, was sharp and accurate with his jab in the first round and it looked like his hand speed would be too much for Gonzalez to handle.
Gonzalez was getting tagged repeatedly by Gary Russell’s jabs in the second round and he looked like he was already getting frustrated in the ring.
Russell’s lead left hand and jab were stopping Gonzalez in his tracks in a strong third round that ended with a counter left hand followed by a right hook by Russell that sent Gonzalez down to the mat and his mouthpiece out of his mouth. Gonzalez was able to survive the round, but he was badly rattled and might not have lasted much longer if there was more time left in the round.
Russell swarmed Gonzalez in the fourth round and sent Gonzalez down again after a flurry of hooks. Gonzalez was on wobbly legs when he got back to his feet but the referee allowed him to continue fighting. Russell wasted little time in knocking Gonzalez down again and the referee had no choice but to wave off the fight.
Garry Russell Jr. wins by TKO at 0:37 of round four.
Showtime Boxing Preview: Brook vs. Dan, Charlo vs. Martirosyan, Russell vs. Gonzalez
By: William Holmes
Showtime’s Championship Boxing series will televise three fights from two different locations on Saturday night as Kell Brook defends his IBF welterweight title against Jo Jo Dan in Sheffield England, while in Las Vegas Jhonny Gonazalez takes on Gary Russell Jr. for Gonzalez’s WBC Featherweight Title and Jermell Charlo takes on Vanes Martirosyan in the junior middleweight division.
The Kell Brook vs. Jo Jo Dan bout will be available live for Showtime subscribers in the afternoon and will be shown again on replay later on that night.
The following is a preview of the three televised bouts.
Kell Brook (33-0) vs. Jo Jo Dan (34-2); IBF Welterweight Title
When you hear boxing pundits talk about British welterweight boxers, you usually hear the name of Amir Khan before Kell Brook, but that has started to change since Brook won the IBF Welterweight title over American Shawn Porter in August of 2014.
Kell Brook will make his first defense of his title when he faces the veteran Romanian Jo Jo Dan in Brook’s home country.
Brook is in his prime and has considerable power. He has stopped twenty-two of his opponents, including four of his past five fights. This might be Dan’s last title shot at a legitimate title as he is currently thirty-three and may be slowly starting to fade. He also doesn’t have the power of Brook, as he has only had two stoppages in his past five fights and two of his wins were by a close split decision.
Brook is arguably a top five welterweight and has faced some decent opposition at this point in his career. He has defeated the likes of Shawn Porter, Vyacheslav Senchenko, Carson Jones, Hector David Saldivia, Matthew Hatton, Lovemore Ndou, and Michael Jennings.
The one knock against Brook is that he has fought most of his career in the United Kingdom, and he has only fought outside of the United Kingdom twice.
Jo Jo Dan has held several regional titles in the past but he has never been a world champion. He has fought all over the world, with most of his fights being in Canada.
Jo Jo Dan has defeated the likes of Kevin Bizier twice by a close split decision and a faded Steve Forbes. He also faced and lost to Selcuk Aydin twice.
This should be an easier fight for Book in his home country. There is a risk that he is looking past Dan and forward to a possibly fight with Amir Khan, but it’s unlikely that Dan will score the upset.
Jermell Charlo (25-0-0) vs. Vanes Martirosyan (35-1-1); Junior Middleweights
The first televised bout of the night from Las Vegas will be between undefeated Jermell Charlo and Vanes Martirosyan in the junior middleweight division.
Martirosyan had a notable amateur career that includes an appearance in the 2004 Olympics for the United States that saw him go 1-1. Jermell Charlo is one half of the noted twin Charlo brothers and he also had a successful amateur career, thought not as successful as Martirosyan. Charlo won the bronze medal at the 2005 Junior Olympics.
Charlo is four years younger than Martirosyan and they are both similar in height and reach. Martirosyan has stopped twenty-one of his opponents, but has only stopped one of his past five. Charlo isn’t known for his power either, as he has only stopped eleven of his opponents and one in his past five.
At this stage of their careers, Martirosyan has faced the better opposition. He had an excellent win over Willie Nelson in his last bout and has also defeated the likes of Ryan Davis, Troy Lowry, Richard Gutierrez, Saul Roman, Joe Greene, and Kassim Ouma. His lone loss was to Demetrius Andrade in November of 2013.
Martirosyan’s best bout was actually a draw against Erislandy Lara in November of 2012.
Charlo has yet to challenge for a legitimate world title, but he has passed every test so far with flying colors. He has defeated the likes of Charlie Ota, Gabriel Rosado, Demetrius Hopkins, and Harry Joe Yorgey.
Martirosyan is experienced enough to give Charlo problems inside the ring, but Charlo is just too quick and smart of a boxer to lose this bout if it goes the distance. Martirosyan’s best shot at victory will come by way of stoppage, but Charlo’s defense is good enough to allow him to stay on his feet for the entire fight.
Jhonny Gonzalez (57-8) vs. Gary Russell Jr. (24-1); WBC Featherweight Title
Gonzalez won his first world title down in the bantamweight division way back in 2005 against Ratanachai Sor Vorapin for the WBO World title. Ten years later, he’s still a champion, but this time in the featherweight division for the WBC title after winning it in a shocking upset over the highly rated Abner Mares.
Gary Russell Jr. is a former amateur standout who won the Junior Olympics as well as the Golden Gloves. Russell was a highly touted prospect, but he has lost some of his shine when he lost a wide decision to the very talented Vasyl Lomachenko.
Gonzalez will be seven years Russell’s elder, and at the age of thirty-three it appears his physical prime should be behind him. Gonzalez, despite starting his career at a lower weight, will have five-inch reach advantage and about an-inch-and-a-half height advantage over his younger opponent.
Russell has been criticized for facing lesser opposition and never challenging himself prior to his fight with Lomachenko. His notable wins include Christopher Martin, Christopher Perez, and Vyacheslav Gusev. When Russell was inside the ring with someone who could match his hand speed and in ring generalship, he lost to Lomachenko in a fight that was closer on the scorecards than it was in the ring, but Russell did show tremendous heart during those twelve tough rounds.
Gonzalez has been in the ring with some of the best lighter weight boxers in the past ten years, and has had mixed results against them. His biggest wins have come against a past his prime Jorge Arce, an upset knockout over Abner Mares, and victories over Rogers Mtagwa, Hozumi Hasegawa, Irene Pacheco, Fernando Montiel, and Marc Johnson. His notable losses were to Israel Vazquez, Gerry Penalosa, Toshiaki Nishioka, and Daniel Ponce De Leon.
Gonzalez’s eight losses at first glance will make it seem like that he should be a walk-over for the much younger Gary Russell, Jr.; however, it should be noted that he has gone 9-1 in his last ten fights and has the power to score a flash knockout like he did against Mares.
That being said, this writer expects Gary Russell Jr. to be able to avoid the power of Gonzalez and cruise to a twelve round decision to win his first legitimate world title.