One of the names on the under-card of Maidana v Morales that seems to have been some what forgotten about is one of the USA’s most skilled prospects around. “Mr” Gary Russell Jr (14-0, 9KO’s). Currently based in Maryland the skilled youngster is still only 22 but seems headed to the top of the sport and is starting to take those big steps up in the boxing world that every fighter needs to make at some point.
Russell was one of the top young amateurs in the USA after picking up the sport at a young age he progressed well and ran up well in excess of 160 wins. He would win several amateur championships including the Junior Olympics (2004) Golden Gloves (2005), U.S. Championships (2005, 2006) and a Bronze medal at the 2007 World Amateur Championships. Though he missed out on making a shot at the 2008 Olympics when he collapsed prior to the weigh in.
Having seen his Olympic dreams crumble Russell would turn professional and make his debut in January 2009 on an episode of ShoBox: The Next Generation. He would stop Antonio Reyes in the 3rd round and follow it up with a handful of wins through out 2009 as he started to adapt to the professional scene. By the end of 2010 Russell Jr was starting to face substantially tougher opponents and gone were the inexperienced professionals that he had been allowed to face to get into the sport.
Stoppage wins against veterans Carlos Diaz, Mauricio Pastrana and the previously never stopped Rodrigo Aranda were hugely impressive for Russell. Russell showed not only was he maturing and genuinely able to throw hurtful shots but land to both the body and head. The key to Russell Jr though wasn’t his power but his lightning quick southpaw jab which comes from a wonderfully balanced stance. As well as the lightning jabs he can throw the hooks and crosses with the same alarming speed. He appears to be confident and is being pushed well by Golden Boy Promotions, hopefully they’ll continue to step him up in levels over his next few fights.
So far in 2011 Russell Jr has fought once beating Feider Viloria who entered the ring with a 23-7-1 record. Russell dropped Viloria in the 5th round before winning a 7th round technical decision in his longest fight to date. His upcoming fight on the Maidana v Morales fight sees him facing Ira Terry (24-4, 14KO’s). Terry is with out a win since December 2009 though lost in April 2010 to Carlos Ivan Velasquez in 4 rounds. Of course Carlos Ivan Velasquez was featured in the opening post of this blog, this gives us a chance to compare how the Puerto Rican and how Russell compare.
Stood at 5’5” and with a 61” reach Russell isn’t big for a featherweight though he is lightning fast and seems to be maturing into a fighter with a solid punch on him. The Featherweight division does seem to be one of the most promising in the world today with the likes of Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez dominating it. Though with American talent including Mickey Garcia, Robert Marroquin and Abraham Lopez all along with Russell the Americans could well become the divisions dominant force one day.
Videos courtesy of Youtube user Boxing Prospect (not confused with an actual link to this blog with the same name).