Gary Russell, Jr. has been on a quest for a title for quite some time and his chances to win one have always been bright.
His stats are like a textbook in excellence as he went undefeated for 5 years compiling 14 knockouts in 24 bouts, until he met Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko for the vacant WBO Featherweight title in June of last year.
Lomachenko had a weird phenom factor in that he won the WBO International Featherweight title in his professional boxing debut after winning gold medals in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Olympics in London.
Russell lost that fight via a 12 round majority decision and with it his first title hopes dashed, and his undefeated record tarnished. However, redemption is on the rise after his last win over Christopher Martin Pena last December.
Up next is Jhonny Gonzalez, the current WBC Featherweight Champion and a wily veteran of the classic Mexican boxing cloth. Since debuting in 1999 and suffering two losses at the outset, Gonzalez has shown staying power and the ability to find gold through the years.
Gonzalez has won titles in 2-weight divisions, as he is the former WBO Bantamweight Champion and currently the WBC Featherweight champion in his amazing 16-year career.
His first round knockout over Abner Mares in 2013 for the WBC Featherweight title was an epic, defining win that showcased his power and veteran ability.
Now Russell faces Gonzales in a match that has the champion trying to extend his win streak to 6 and Russells to two with a strap hopefully added to the win.
Said Russell Jr.:
I respect Jhonny Gonzalez like I respect all my opponents. He worked hard to win the title. I have studied tape of him. I know he is going to come right after me. Gonzalez is a puncher. But Im a good puncher too. Hes been knocked out before, maybe hell get knocked out again.”
Gonzalez and Lomachenko are totally different fighters with completely different styles. Lomachenko may be a bit better overall, but Gonzalez is more of a pure puncher with power. I know Gonzalez has a dangerous left hook. But Im totally prepared for that and everything else. In my fight with Lomachenko I was flat. A lot of things went wrong in camp before that fight. I allowed my conditioning coach at that time to change up all sorts of little things with me, and they wound up working against me.
For this camp, we went back to basics with the same people Ive always had. It was a great camp. You know, if it aint broke, dont fix it and thats the philosophy all of us have again. I never dreamed growing up of being a world champion. My goal was to become a U.S. Olympian and win a gold medal. When I didnt, I felt I let so many people down. It was then I started dreaming of becoming a world champion.
I get another chance on Saturday. Im ready for it.
Gary Russell, Jr. vs. Jhonny Gonzales airs live on Showtime Networks this Saturday and will be the fight of the weekend. It will undoubtedly be a defining moment for Russell, Gonzales and the emerging Featherweight ranks of boxing.