RingTV.com caught up to unbeaten featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. for this Q&A.
Russell is coming off an eight-round unanimous-decision rout of Eric Estrada on the undercard of last month's fifth-round knockout by WBA and IBF junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan over Zab Judah.
The 28-year-old Miranda (32-3, 32 KOs) started his career at 30-0 with 28 knockouts.But Miranda is 2-3 in his last three fights, including a split-decision loss to Luis Franco (10-0, 6 KOs) in his most-recent outing in February.
Russell's clash with Miranda takes place a week prior to another featuring ex-featherweight titleholder and former Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0, 16 KOs) and former beltholder Daniel Ponce de Leon (41-3, 34 KOs) on Sept. 10.
Russell explained why he chose Miranda and mulled a potential match up against Gamboa, among other things.
RingTV.com: So why did you pick Miranda?
Gary Russell Jr.: Well they came to me with four guys to choose from, and I can't think of the other two right at the moment. But there were two guys who stood out the most to me. The other guy was a Cuban Olympian.
I feel that my skill-level rises with whoever I fight, but I also feel that my skill-level is superior to whoever I fight. So I don't want to fight down in competition.
That's why I feel as though I'm fighting up in competition by fighting Miranda. I want to prove to everyone that I'm better than anyone in my weight class.
I think that this guy represented the best challenge of the guys that I had to choose from.
RingTV.com: How is the injured left hand that you suffered in the first round against Estrada?
GR: I worked on it a little bit and I think that it should be right where I need it to be on Sept. 3. So it's feeling pretty good.
RingTV.com: What are your thoughts on Gamboa, who is fighting a week after you?
GR: The fact that he's fighting the following weekend doesn't factor into my mind at all. My thing is that I'm just focused on me. Once again, I don't feel that there is anybody in my weight class who is as good as I am in the featherweight division.
There's no one in the division who can beat me, and that includes Yuriorkis Gamboa, Juan Manuel Lopez or anyone else. But my main focus is to fight up to my own standards, which I feel is at a completely different level than everyone else.
I'm my own worst critic. I'm definitely going to try to push myself to the highest point every fight. We're always shooting to be the best.
RingTV.com: Given that some felt that your performance last month stole the show, will you shoot to out-do the Zaveck-Berto fight?
GR: Most definitely. I feel that I'm more well-rounded and I'm more technically sound than any fighter in any division all the way around. Whenever I perform, that's going to show.
I expect to show up and be Gary Russell Jr. I feel as though, once again, that I'm not just the best fighter in my division, but that I'm going to someday be considered the best fighter, pound-for-pound, in the world.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]