When Gary Russell fought Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr. last month, the battle was deeper than the win and loss column. The fight for the coveted WBC belt in the featherweight division was about legacy, as witnessed by three fighting brothers named Gary Russell on the card and their family coaching the flock.
Diaz is coached by his father of the same namesake and during their final press conference for the fight, Junior was so moved that he began to tear up at the thought of winning the strap and making his father and family proud.
Boxing is a hard sport. The training is grueling and there is nothing more refreshing then to work every day with your family.
Look at the lineage of the fighting Garcia family from Oxnard, California. Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia’s father, Eduardo, is a former amateur boxer and trainer of world champion boxer Fernando Vargas at La Colonia Youth Boxing Club. His older brother, Roberto, now a world-renowned trainer, was a professional boxer and a former IBF Super Featherweight Champion who lost his belt to the late Diego Corrales.
Driven- Mikey Garcia
The Garcia way is all about family, and Mikey has been on a whirlwind path since his return from a dispute with his former promoter, Top Rank. After a KO of The Year-worthy performance against Dejan Zlaticanin, Garcia mopped up Adrien Broner and more recently Sergey Lipinets to become a four-time world champion in four different weight classes.
Now on his way to defend his WBC lightweight title against current IBF champ Robert Easter, Jr., Garcia is putting himself closer to becoming one of the top fighters of all time and not in small part from the efforts of his father and big brother.
Current WBA featherweight champion Abner Mares, who’s fighting this weekend against Leo Santa Cruz to unify the titles, now trains with the Fighting Garcia’s.
Look no further than the backyard of Washington, D.C. for Prince George’s County’s own Team Gary Russell, more a movement than a family that labels itself the “Bloodline of Royalty”.
Led by Gary Russell, Sr., they all have the same name and the same plan, acquisition of world titles. The first-born, Gary Russell, Jr., is the current undefeated WBC featherweight champion. His younger brothers, called by their middle names Antuanne and Antonio, are all professional fighters and former Olympians. As a team, the Russell’s are under the radar for many casual boxing fans. However, they relish living just under the spotlight to steal the show and everyone’s belts.
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With Gary, Jr. announcing that he has 6-7 more fights left in him and a move to different weight classes, the game will be interesting for boxing’s young royal family. With the father-son winning combo of former opponent Vasiliy Lomachenko still on Russell’s radar for a rematch, the featherweight division is that much more exciting from these unofficial family feuds.
Southern California is a hotbed of boxing activity and more religion than rarity for its Mexican-American families. Enter Leo Santa Cruz and his downtown Los Angeles roots which led him into the sanctum of a boxing gym. Under the watchful auspices of his father Jose Santa Cruz, Leo has become a multiple-time world champion in three different weight classes.
The inspirational story of Leo Santa Cruz’s father, Jose, who was diagnosed with bone cancer. Hear from the Santa Cruz family about Jose’s battle to overcome his condition as Leo prepares to defend his WBA Featherweight Title against Carl Frampton – live from Brooklyn, NY Saturday, July 30 at 9PM ET/6PM PT on SHOWTIME.
His father and trainer Jose has overcome cancer to be back in his corner while his older brother Roberto also has his daily battle with the Lupus. Roberto had a record of 11-3 before being struck down with the disease of the immune system and Leo fights for them both.
This weekend, Santa Cruz battles Abner Mares in the continuation of a dance that began in 2015, when Santa Cruz took a majority decision.
The first matchup between Santa Cruz and Mares was an instant classic, with the fellow three-division champions combining to throw more than 2,000 total punches in one of the best fights of 2015. Santa Cruz and Mares further solidified themselves as the most active and exciting fighters in boxing in their first showdown, combining to throw over 170 punches per round, more than 50 above the featherweight average at the time.
From the Russell family in the nation’s capital to the Garcia’s and Santa Cruzs’ in Southern California and the fighting Houston Charlo twins, boxing is a game rooted in legacy and we are all better off for it.