Gary Russell: I can’t force these guys to fight me

WBC featherweight world champion Gary Russell Jr., who owns the longest reign of any current male champion and has held his 126-pound belt since 2015. On January 22, Russell takes on WBC mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo live on SHOWTIME from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J. Russell, who is making just his sixth defense in seven years, says he has problems getting opponents.

“I’ve been willing to compete against whoever, whenever and wherever, but I can’t force these guys to get in the ring and fight me,” Russell told reporters Tuesday. “I just have to prepare to the best of my ability. I need a dance partner.

“I see [Magsayo] as a good even-handed puncher, maybe he leans a little more to the right hand. He has good punching power, but none of that matters if you can’t hit your target.

“We’re grinding in training camp. No matter what, we’re not going to make any excuses or complaints.

“If I’m going to move up in weight, I want to fight the champion. I’m not planning to move up in weight just to stand in line. I’m fighting Magsayo because he moved up the rankings and earned this spot. Everyone who I’ve competed against has been the next best guy under the champion.

“I don’t have any concerns with Magsayo’s power. You very seldom see me have to come back on the scorecards. Magsayo had to come back in his last fight because he was losing on the cards. That shows some holes in his armor.

“I never overlook anybody. Of course, I want the Gervonta Davis fight. But I’m focused on Magsayo. He’s the one who worked his way into this position to fight me. Davis is in no rush, so I’m going to remain focused on a true warrior who’s getting into the ring with me.

“I stay in the gym. Boxing is not just what I do, it’s a lifestyle for me. Even when I’m over and done with my career, I’m still going to be in the gym. I never really blow up and get big in weight. I love what I do and I’m very militant in my mindset.

“No one can really prepare for me. You can’t prepare like you think you can. I know Magsayo will be at his physical and mental best. I take my hat off to him, because he’s willing to put it on the line to prove he’s the best. I wish other fighters would take that same risk.

“A lot of these other guys aren’t willing to step in there with me because of the skillset that I bring. Finally, we have another fighter with some heart who’s willing to fight. I want him to bring his best, so we’ll see whose best is best.”

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  • It’s hard for you to make that point Gary when you have gone through an entire generation of champions and didn’t fight any of them. If you say Santa Cruz and Frampton and Abner Mares were scared to fight you, that’s your business. But you can’t then go and say…. oh and Tank and Shakur Stevenson and Navarrete and Warrington were scared too. Everyone isn’t afraid of Gary Russell.

    • Yup. Exactly. Something is wrong with Gary but I can’t put my finger on what. It did seem to change after the Lokachenko loss, if I’m recalling correctly .

      • Can’t put your finger on it? Let me try to help you.

        What you’re seeing is an underachieving, calculating individual who is content with putting out the ‘minimal viable product’ that allows him the eat, keep the lights on, and live ‘his’ American dream.

        Does that help you?

  • Bull SHIT! This guy is so full of himself it’s ridiculous. He actually acts like opponents fear him.

    Whenever an offer is put on the table he asks for too much money or opponents see the peanuts they are being offered and lose interest. This is a perfect case of one wouldn’t and one couldn’t. Loma schooled this Mr suave cool wannabe and all I’ve heard since is how he’s chasing a scared Loma for a rematch and here he’s basically saying the same bullshit now he thinks his skill set is out of this world and that’s why no one wants to fight him give me a break. The only thing that awaits him when he steps up in weight is another asskicking like Loma gave him then he’ll return to fighting once a year for a couple more years until he’s simply irrelevant and hitting close to middle age. .

  • Russell milks the rules dry on making minimum title defenses so he can make some annual money to live on, say he is a boxing champion, and take his sweet time doing so. Yet, his tactics he employs in doing this takes away recognition in his boxing talents making the fans frustrated and rather dissappointed in his performance.

  • Wow, 7 years, similar to Duran and Hagler, but without anything like the impact, how times have changed… Progress?

  • Unfortunately Gary is a bit delusional! I really feel bad for him because he really does have an amazing skill set and yet all of these potential fights have basically come and gone! Unlike Andrade whom nobody wants to fight, at least he’s active!!

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