Featherweight Gary Russell Jr. told RingTV.com on Monday that he wants his next fight to be against Jhonny Gonzalez in the wake of Gonzalez’s first-round knockout that dethroned Abner Mares as the WBC’s beltholder on Saturday night.
A 25-year-old from Capitol Heights, Md., Russell (23-0, 13 knockouts) also encouraged Mares to “keep his head up,” adding that after facing Gonzalez, “I would give Abner an immediate opportunity to fight me.”
Russell and Mares have engaged in some online trash talk during which Russell has said that it would “be so easy” to defeat Mares (26-1-1, 14 KOs), who responded that Russell “hasn’t fought any A-level fighters.”
But Russell dismissed the dialogue in the wake of Mares’ demise, instead focusing on their mutual status as married fathers. Russell welcomed the birth of his third daughter on Aug. 13 — four days after scoring a unanimous decision over Juan Ruiz in his last fight — and Mares is the father of two young girls.
“At the end of the day, yeah, we talk and whatever, but that comes with the sport. We’re in it to provide for a better lifestyle for not just us, but also, for our families. So I respect Abner and I know we’re in a similar situation in that way. So I definitely understand that, and, again, I respect him for that. So he should definitely — more than anything — definitely he’s got to keep his head up,” said Russell.
“Stay focused and get back in the gym and get back on your grind, because I’m going to beat Jhonny Gonzalez. I’m going to beat that ass. My next fight, we’re doing everything in our power to make our next fight with Jhonny Gonzalez. Do you want to know who I would fight immediately after Jhonny Gonzalez? Abner. I would give Abner an immediate opportunity to fight me.”
It took Mares less than three years to ascend from title challenger to a three-division beltwinner who was THE RING’s No. 5-rated pound-for-pound fighter entering his clash with Gonzalez (55-8, 47 KOs). A 27-year-old Mexican-born California resident, Mares had won major titles in the bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight classes over the span of 21 months.
On Saturday, Mares was dropped twice by Gonzalez in the first defense of the belt he won during his 126-pound debut with a ninth-round knockout of Daniel Ponce de Leon. Ponce de Leon was the last man to defeat Gonzalez, an eighth-round technical decision last September that ended his 12-fight winning streak which included 11 knockouts.
Although he said that “it’s too early to really predict anything,” Russell said his advisor, Al Haymon, is in hot pursuit of a bout with Gonzalez, who has scored 13 knockouts in his past 15 victories.
“I’m going to give you the inside scoop, and that’s that we were planning on fighting Abner after this fight. So what’s going on now is that we’re putting in a bid to fight Jhonny Gonzalez. We’re really trying to get Gonzalez, now, and, hopefully, we get the fight with Gonzalez. You know, Al Haymon has a good partnership with Golden Boy, so it’s pretty easy to get things done,” said Russell.
“My next fight was going to be against Abner, maybe at the end of November, maybe December. Somewhere around there. I would have rather fought Abner Mares, because he’s got such a great fan base and more of a following and all of that, so of course I would have rather gotten Abner than Jhonny. But it’s all good. Once I beat Jhonny and take his belt, then we could do a fight with Abner.”
Did Russell think Gonzalez-Mares was stopped too quickly by referee Jack Reiss?
“On the stoppage, I think that it was a legitimate stoppage. You could see that Mares was clearly hurt, and that he couldn’t get his legs back. He didn’t have his legs back at the timie. I think that it was it was a decent stoppage. I don’t think that it was premature or anything like that,” said Russell.
“But I don’t think that Abner has really lost his fan base or anything like that. It wasn’t as if he got beat up throughout the fight or anything. He just got caught, and in boxing, anyone can get caught. It’s going to come down to how he bounces back from that which makes the difference.”
LUCAS MATTHYSSE HAS ‘ANSWER’ FOR DANNY GARCIA
Lucas Matthysse continues to express a strong belief that he will win his seventh straight fight and dethrone RING junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia when they meet in the co-feature to Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept. 14.
Durinig his first interview on American soil since the announcement of his clash with Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs), Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs) told Showtime’s Brian Kenny on Saturday night “my hard training will be the answer.”
“I am training tremendously. I respect him as a fighter and as a champion but that’s all that I respect. We’ve practiced on some things about him that I won’t divulge right now, but my hard training will be the answer,” said Matthysse, who scored his sixth consecutive knockout with a third-round stoppage of IBF 140-pound beltholder Lamont Peterson in a non-title bout in May.
“As a champion, I knew that he was going to accept the challenge, sooner or later. I’m very happy that on Sept. 14, we’re going to face each other. Once I’m on American soil, I’ve realized how many foreign fans that I have. I’m really happy about the support that I’ve gotten so far…Even if the title was not on the line, for me it’s a great honor to fight on this undercard of Canelo and Mayweather. I know that for boxing, it’s going to be a very important date.”
JOSHUA CLOTTEY RETURNS VERSUS DASHON JOHNSON AT 156 POUNDS
Ghana’s Joshua Clottey (36-4, 22 KOs), a former IBF welterweight beltholder who has signed with Star Boxing, will return to the ring on Sept. 14 against Dashon Johnson (14-12-3, 5 KOs) at The Paramount Theatre in Huntington, N.Y., the promotional company’s president, Joe DeGuardia, informed RingTV.com on Monday.
Clottey, who resides in The Bronx, N.Y., and who turns 36 in October, will fight Johnson at a weight of 156 pounds, according to DeGuardia.
“[The] weight will be 156 lbs—Joshua [will] campaign at both junior middle and middle. That is still middleweight,” wrote DeGuardia in an e-mail. “But it is a weight of 156 pounds, as Joshua will be campaigning at both junior middle and middle depending on the fight.”
Clottey was last in the ring in November of 2011 for a second-round knockout of junior middleweight rival Calvin Green (though both weighed in at 156 pounds) on the undercard of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s fifth-round stoppage of Peter Manfredo Jr.
Clottey was 20-0, with 15 knockouts before being disqualified in the 11th round for head-butting against Carlos Baldomir, a matchup he needed only to stay on his feet to win in November of 1999.
KID GALAHAD: ‘IF IT WASN’T FOR BOXING, I’D BE IN A PRISON CELL RIGHT NOW.’
As a 13-year-old, Abdul Barry Awad was headed down a troubled road similar to that which eventually enveloped his two brothers.
Now a professional fighter who goes by the name of Kid Galahad, the British junior featherweight takes a record of 14-0 with seven knockouts against English rival James Dickens (16-0, 5 KOs) in pursuit of his fourth straight stoppage victory on Sept. 14.
“Both of my brothers have done about seven and a half years in prison. My oldest brother — his name is Muhammad — he did seven and a half years straight off. He’s 27. He did that for armed robbery when he was 19,” said Galahad, who was born in Qatar before moving with his parents to England when he was 3.
“I’ve got a younger brother named Magid, and he’s gone there now. When he was 13 or 14, he did two and a half years and come out for a little while and then he was right back in for a stabbing, and now he’s doing four years. He’s in prison right now.”
“When I got to that gym,” said Galahad, 23. “I just knew that boxing was going to be the way that I would make my living.”
“If it wasn’t for boxing, I’d be in a prison cell right now, because, other than that, that’s the only thing that keeps me out of trouble.”
DUSTY HERNANDEZ-HARRISON RISES TO 17-0 WITH 10TH KNOCKOUT
Welterweight Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (17-0, 10 KOs), of Washington, D.C., scored a fourth-round knockout over Miami’s Guillermo Valdes (12-5, 3 KOs) at The Dover Downs Hotel and Casino in Dover, Del., on Friday night.
Valdes, 40, lost for the fifth time in his past six fights, with all of his setbacks being by knockout. Valdes was stopped for the fourth consecutive time in as many straight losses.
“I’m really happy with the performance I provided for my fans tonight, because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Hernandez-Harrison, 19, who dropped Valdes in the second round.
“It’s amazing to be able to come to Dover and still feel like I am fighting back home in D.C. The fans are great and everyone at Dover Downs treated us in a first class manner.”
Photo by Scott Heavey, Gettyimages
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photo courtesy of RedEye Films
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]