It was back in September of last year that undefeated southpaw featherweight Gary Russell Jr. dominated hard-punching, fellow left-hander Leonilo Miranda, of Mexico, a unanimous decision that had followed an equally one-sided rout of Eric Estrada in July of last year.
Miranda had entered their clash with a mark of 32-3 with 30 knockouts, having won his first 30 bouts, with 28 of those being by stoppage.
The triumph over Miranda, said Russell, signaled the end of his issues with brittle hands. That declaration was validated when Russell took just over two minutes to score a first-round knockout of Mexican Heriberto Ruiz in November of last year thanks to a perfectly executed, crunching right hook to the jaw that planted his foe on the canvas for good.
Russell’s power was on display, yet again, during Friday’s night’s Showtime ShoBox: The New Generation headliner against Roberto Castaneda, whom he flattened with yet another, sensational, counter right hook at 1 minute, 25 seconds of the third round.
As Castaneda (20-3-1, 15 knockouts) lay on his back, referee Pat Russell covered him and didn’t bother to count, as Russell improved to 21-0 with his 13th career stoppage and his third consecutive knockout victory.
A resident of Capitol Heights, Md., Russell turned 24 on June 5, just 25 days prior to scoring a third-round knockout over veteran Chris Perez (23-3, 14 KOs) in his last fight.
Russell, who is promoted by Golden Boy, addressed the hand injuries during an interview with RingTV.com in January, and spoke to RingTV.com in the aftermath of Friday’s win over Castaneda.
RingTV.com: How are the hands?
Gary Russell Jr.: [Laughs.] Man, they’re doing good, man. We’ve been working on a lot of stuff in the gym, so we’re right on task.
So we’ll head home, and we’ll be back in the gym on Monday, and we’re going to have a big year. We’re going to have a big 2013.
RingTV.com: On that right hook, did you see that developing, or were you just boxing and taking what came?
GRJ: Oh, no, no, no, I definitely saw that it was developing. He couldn’t deal with my hand speed, and I kept hurting him to the body. I just kept on hurting him to the body.
I knew that he couldn’t get out of the way of my left hand to the body, so I knew that eventually that it was going to make him drop his hands and want to protect himself to the body.
So when he started to step over into the path of my right hook, I knew that, eventually, it was going to be there to land effectively.
So when the more that he tried to stay away from my left hand to the body, I knew that he was going to run right into my right hook.
RingTV.com: Where does that knockout rank among the others in your career?
GRJ: I could be up there. I’m not sure. I want to get a chance to sit down and watch it. I want to see the fight.
I want to critique myself as a fighter, you know? I’m my own worst critic. So, I want to see how the fight went before I say anything.
RingTV.com: What do you want to do next?
GRJ: We’re going to have a big 2013, and, you know, hopefully, we’re going to have one of these featherweight titles by the end of the year.
RingTV.com: Would January or February or thereabouts be your target date?
GRJ: Sometime in February. I don’t want to be calling anybody out. We’ll do that maybe a little later.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]