Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer has confirmed an assertion by featherweight Gary Russell Jr. that a bout with Jhonny Gonzalez is being considered following Gonzalez’s first-round knockout that dethroned Abner Mares as the WBC’s beltholder on Saturday night.
During Saturday’s post-fight press conference, Schaefer called Russell “the perfect opponent” for Gonzalez, adding that it was a “Big fight.”
“Gary Russell wants a big fight, that’s a big fight,” said Schaefer. “I would love to make that fight, maybe November or December. We’ll see when Jhonny wants to fight; we’ll talk to his promoter.”
Mares (26-1-1, 14 knockouts) was dropped twice by Gonzalez (55-8, 47 KOs) in the first defense of the belt he won with a ninth-round knockout of Daniel Ponce de Leon in May. 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.
“On Saturday night, after the fight, I talked to Gary Russell’s advisor, Al Haymon, and floated the idea of a possible fight between Gary and Jhonny Gonazlez. Al told me that he likes the idea and that he likes the fight, and that he’s going to be talking to Gary about that,” said Schaefer.
“Gary obviously is the kind of fighter who will fight anyone. We have had a tough time finding opponents who are willing to fight him. So I’m very happy to hear that Gary is open to that fight as well and now I will be talking with the promoter of Jhonny Gonzalez to see that that fight can be done.
“Gary is ready to fight for a world title. I think that Gary has been ready for a while to fight for a world title. But you know how it is, you sort of have to wait for the right moment to bet into position to have the opportunity to fight for a world title, even if you are as talented as Gary Russell is. I think that opportunity is hear now.”
SCHAEFER: MARES HAS ‘FIRST CRACK’ BUT ‘DESERVES A BREATHER’
THE RING’s No. 5-rated pound-for-pound fighter entering his clash with Gonzalez, Mares had won major titles in the bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight divisions over the span of 21 months. Schaefer’s idea would be to have Mares fight once before getting another title shot.
“It’s obviously the Monday morning after, but I’m going to be sitting down with Eric Gomez and the team and discuss what we want to do next. We do have a couple of controlling options with Jhonny Gonzalez, where we basically have to pay a fee for Jhonny Gonzalez to fight, and so what we will do is we will see how we are going to use those two options. Obviously, Abner has first crack. But what happens is totally up to Abner, because we work for him, but, again, my plan is that I think that he should take some time off and then have a fight and then go and fight for the world title again. That’s the blueprint that I would suggest. If it’s going to be Jhonny, then it’s going to be Jhonny, and if it’s going to be somebody else, then it’s going to be that somebody else,” said Schaefer.
“Abner’s resume of fighting the best is absolutely unreal, so I know that Abner is not the kind of fighter who wants to do easy fights because he’s always fought the best over the past two and a half or three years, and that’s why I felt that it was long overdue to have him included in the top pound-for-pound list. I was glad to see that that finally happened after his win over Ponce de Leon. So I know that Abner is not going to want a soft touch, but I think that he sort of deserves a bit of a breather and that he can certainly take some time off to be with his family as he has indicated. The last couple of years, he’s been very busy with back-to-back-to-back fights, so I think that he should take a breather and relax and then, sometime next year, in the spring, come back and toward the summer fight for the title again. That would be my blue print for Abner.”
SCHAEFER HAS ‘NO PROBLEM WITH THE STOPPAGE’ OF GONZALEZ-MARES
Did Schaefer think Gonzalez-Mares was stopped too quickly by referee Jack Reiss?
“I haven’t watched [the a replay of the fight] but based on where I was sitting in the first row, the first knockdown was a vicious knockdown, and Abner was clearly hurt and his legs were gone. Then, he decided to go and punch his way out and basically got caught again. I just saw that his eyes rolled back, and, frankly, it looked pretty freaky from where I was sitting. I was very worried for Abner, because first and foremost, I wanted to make sure that he was okay,” said Schaefer.
“Given the flow of the fight, and how Abner was hurt from the first knockdown, and given that he was clearly hurt again from the second knockdown, I felt like it was a correct stoppage, and the members of the media who were close by there at ringside sort of said the same thing. But for me, the most important thing is that Abner is okay, because there is going to be another night. That wasn’t his night, but there are going to be many more nights which will be his night. That one was not. I just really wanted to make sure that he was going to be alright, and I think that that’s what Jack wanted as well. So I have no problem with the stoppage.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]