Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Russell returns to ‘Fight Night Club’


Gary Russell Jr. might be best known for missing his weigh-in and a chance to fight for his country at the 2008 Olympics because he passed out in his dorm room. His professional opponents know him better for his exceptional skills and athletic ability.

Russell returns to Fight Night Club Card to face veteran Mauricio Pastrana on Thursday night at Club Nokia in Los Angeles after stopping Rodrigo Aranda in the second round during last month’s show.

The card will be televised on Fox Sports Net and streamed live on and Ustream beginning at 8 p.m. PT / 11 p.m. ET.

Jose Navarro had originally been scheduled to fight in the main event but is not on the card.

Russell (10-0, with 7 knockouts) has five consecutive knockouts, all within three rounds and three in the first round. Aranda is a capable opponent who has given other talented fighters trouble but he couldn’t cope with Russell’s speed.

“He had fought some guys I know from the amateur circuit,” Russell said after the fight. “And he went the distance with them. My goal was to knock him out. And that’s what happened. ÔǪ I find a lot of guys have trouble with my hand speed.

“Some guys have good speed but no power or good power and no speed. I think I’ve been blessed with both.”

Pastrana (35-14-2, 23 KOs) is a former two-time junior flyweight title holder with a great deal of experience but hasn’t held a belt since 1998 and is 37. The Miami-based Colombian also is 1-7 in his last eight fights.

He has become a big-name stepping stone for young fighters on the rise.

Also, in the co-feature, Nestor Rocha (21-2, 7 KOs) will begin the rebuilding process after he was stopped in one round by Hozumi Hasegawa a year ago, his first world title shot. The Los Angeles-area product faces the always-ready Garcia (14-15-3, 1 KO) in a six-round bantamweight bout.

Juan Heraldez (2-0, 2 KOs) of Las Vegas takes on John Willoughby (2-3) of Atlanta, Ga., in a four-round junior welterweight bout.

Ramon Valadez (1-0) of East Los Angeles also returns to Fight Night Club, facing Angelino Oscar Andrade (1-0, 1 KO) in a four-round junior welterweight bout.

And Angel Estrada (4-0-1, 2 KOs) of San Diego fights Raul Tovar (7-3-1, 3 KOs) of Mission, Texas, in a six-round welterweight matchup.

Tickets, ranging from $19.75 to $250 (on stage), are available by calling TicketMaster at 1-800-745-3000, online at and at the Staples Center box office.