Monday, June 05, 2023  |



Gary Russell Jr. still recovering from shoulder injury, unsure if he’ll fight again

Mark Magsayo and Gary Russell Jr. trade punches during their competitive WBC featherweight title bout, which Magsayo won via maj. decision. Photo by Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

The last time we saw Gary Russell Jr. he lost his WBC featherweight title to Mark Magsayo by 12-round majority decision in January.

Russell, who is rated No. 7 at 126-pounds by The Ring, was clearly hampered through the contest by a shoulder injury but is adamant he did enough to keep his title.

“I didn’t know exactly what the injury was when I competed but it was already injured two weeks before the fight in sparring,” Russell (31-2, 18 knockouts) told The Ring. “I put it in a sling myself for two weeks and still competed. It got worse in the fight when I attempted to throw it. I tore the tendon that was connected to my rotor cuff.

“I felt like Mark was not good enough. Even with me having one hand, he still wasn’t able to do anything with me. My skill set was that much superior. Mark didn’t beat me at all, they took my title from me. I should still be the WBC champion. I did whatever I wanted with Mark, with one hand.” 

The 34-year-old American southpaw had surgery on his shoulder on April 1, and four months later, still feels he has a long way to go to return to full fitness.

“I have been doing some aggressive physical therapy,” he said. “I’m working to stay healthy and try to get my arm back as strong as possible. At this point, I’m not even focusing on competing. I’m just focusing on getting back healthy, getting my arm right to be able to do my every day activities. I’m always in the gym, I like to stay in a certain shape.

“As far as my every day activities it’s about 40, 45 percent. As far as boxing wise, it feels better, I can jab, I can punch with it but I’m not comfortable with it at all.”

Russell didn’t watch his successor, Magsayo, lose his title to Rey Vargas in his first defense last month.

“It didn’t surprise me at all [that Vargas beat Magsayo,]” said Russell. “Mark Magsayo is one-dimensional. Styles make fights, I think [Vargas] realized the style that I brought to the table was too difficult for him and it was something they didn’t want to compete against but Mark Magsayo’s style on the other hand is tailor made for Rey Vargas. 

“Rey Vargas is tall, he’s long, it takes a certain type of style of style to be able to compete against Rey Vargas. You have to have a certain type of hand speed, a certain type of swag or charisma to overset Rey’s rhythm and Magsayo didn’t have that.”

Russell goes as far as to say it’s a possibility that he doesn’t fight again, though clearly states if he does return, he wants all the smoke.

“If I come back, if my arm comes back to the point where I can compete on the level that I would want,” he said. “I was pretty much done with 126 anyway. Would I want the title back? Nah. I’ve got bigger fish to fry. I want the same people I always want to compete against. If I come back, I would love Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis be the first guinea pig to test this right arm. I’d love to fight him. 

“If I’m coming back competing, everybody knows the caliber of fighter I am, I’m a world champion caliber fighter. So, If I’m competing, I’m competing in world championship caliber fighters. It needs to be someone who is truly worth my while to be really be able to display my skill set and superiority. Give me one of these champions.”


Gary Russell Jr. assesses brother’s controversial sixth-round stoppage of Rances Barthelemy – The Ring (


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright