"I'm a true fighter. Boxing is similar to just waking up and getting out of the bed and walking to me. That's what boxing is to me. I don't do the extra stuff because it's natural; 100% natural...the ultimate win in boxing is a knockout, so it definitely feels good to know that all of the work that I put in and the hours in the gym and time and effort that I put in paid off. I'm definitely grateful that it paid off," stated undefeated featherweight contender Gary Russell Jr., who talked about his recent victory, his future plans, and much more. Check it out!
PC: You told me there were a lot of things you wanted to do in that fight, and from the outside looking in, it appears you accomplished those things. How do you feel about your performance?
GR: I felt pretty good. I felt that I had some flaws in my defense based on the fact that I didn't get a chance to prepare for the guy. We saw very little footage on him and, like I said, we honestly didn't prepare for him, but I felt pretty good though.
PC: Before we get more into your fight, did you have a chance to watch the Olympians, and if so, what were your thoughts?
GR: Honestly, I did not get a chance to check them out. I wanted to check them out and see what those guys brought to the table. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to even watch my fight yet. But I'm gonna tune in and watch the entire card, man, so I can see these guys fight.
PC: Being that they were making their pro debuts and we knew the competition would probably be outmatched, and the fact that they were fighting in 4 round fights, did you have your hands taped earlier than usual and warm up earlier than usual?
GR: Most definitely. They were 4-round fights and I know these guys are elite athletes, and even though they are making their pro debut, their pedigree is setting them a little bit above and beyond the guys that they were going to be put in the ring with them. We definitely had to be prepared for that, so we did wrap up early and I wanted to get warmed up early. I warmed up at least 4 or 5 times so that we could make sure we were 100% ready, because those fights can end in the 1st round. And then not only that, they were only 4-round fights, so the fights could only go but so long. We wanted to be 100% prepared in case it went down like that.
PC: What is your pre-fight ritual?
GR: Honestly man, I don't have a pre-fight ritual. I notice there are a lot of guys that seclude themselves and do certain things the same way. I don't. I'm the same person. I'm still laughing, joking, talking on the phone and talking to everybody. I'm a true fighter. Boxing is similar to just waking up and getting out of the bed and walking to me. That's what boxing is to me. I don't do the extra stuff because it's natural; 100% natural. You probably see me 2 minutes before I'm entering the ring and I'm talking to my brother talking about something other than the fight (laughing).
PC: How securing is it to have your family in your corner? I'm sure it's great to have that familiar voice going to the corner and also sending you back out into the ring.
GR: It's very securing, and the reason why is because as far as a coach, your coach is your last line of defense and who you have to depend on. You have to have 100% faith and trust in what it is they are telling you to do. With someone that my coach is my dad, so I naturally have that bond that a fighter and trainer can't have. I come out of the womb naturally loving my dad and knowing that everything that he does it to my benefit. I look at it as though if I'm in the ring and my dad tells me to do something, it's easy for me to go out there and try to execute it because I know my dad is not going to tell me anything wrong. And if I go out there and do what he told me to do and it doesn't work it will more so be my thought process would be it's not working because I'm not doing it exactly the way that he wants me to do it. It's definitely a big factor.
PC: Going back to the knockout, it all started with the body. You dug to his body twice and then the right hook was there. Did you notice the hands lowering as you hit him to the body and that set up the hook?
GR: I saw it. I started touching him to the body early. When I started hitting him to the body, he started to circle away from my left hand and sliding to my right, so I knew if I touched his body, he was gonna run right into my hook.
PC: A lot of people are saying they wanna see you step up in competition, but do you feel with the hand speed you displayed and the punching power in both hands that you are gonna be tough for anyone to deal with?
GR: Most definitely.
PC: Being that this is a guy you didn't really prepare for and you didn't have much footage on him, what was the game plan going into this fight?
GR: The plan was to feel him out in the 1st round. We felt hand speed would definitely be a factor once we felt him out. We knew he had 20 fights with 15 knockouts, so apparently he had to have some sort of pop, so we wanted to feel him out. And everything worked off of my jab. If I can hit you with my jab officially when I wanted to, it's gonna be a long night. We definitely wanted to touch the body early and establish everything off of the jab, and felt we would be able to make the necessary adjustments in the corner depending on what my father and I was seeing in the fight. We were basically playing it by eye for this fight. We prepared the entire training camp for an entirely different guy, so we had to play this one by eye, and me being an elite athlete since the amateurs, my pedigree definitely stepped up. It's been times in these big major tournaments you don't know who you're gonna fight from one night to another, so it definitely helped out and played a big factor that I had gone through that before.
PC: They say great homerun hitters know when they hit the sweet spot on the ball. You had a walk-away knockout on Friday night. How does that feel?
GR: Ah man, the ultimate win in boxing is a knockout, so it definitely feels good to know that all of the work that I put in and the hours in the gym and time and effort that I put in paid off. I'm definitely grateful that it paid off.
PC: I talk to a lot of fighters that say when they are not fighting, they don't really follow the sport like that. Are you like that or do you watch all of the fights?
GR: Honestly, I do watch boxing, but I'm one of the guys that will watch it depending on who I'm watching. I'm definitely a fan of the sport, so when I'm watching on television, I will definitely stop and look at the guy. I try to critique them and if a guy is really boring and don't catch my attention, then I turn it off.
PC: Adrien Broner is fighting Antonio Demarco this weekend. How do you see that fight going?
GR: I'm not sure. I'm honestly not sure. I feel as though in boxing man, everyone always have a chance. You always have to be ready. I think it's going to be exciting and I hope they give the fans exactly what they wanna see.
PC: They spoke about your demeanor never changing after the knockout. Is that something you consciously do to not let your emotions be known or is that just you?
GR: Nah, that's just me. You see a lot of guys when they win fights, they jump up and down and their entire corner is celebrating and the guy jumps up on the ropes and stuff like that. I understand that these guys are excited, but the reason why I don't do stuff like that is we train very, very hard in the gym. We put in work on a regular basis and I expect for the outcome to be exactly what happened. I expect to win these fights the way I do, so when I do win, it's not a big deal to me or my corner. We take the win, we acknowledge each other as far as the work that we put in that it paid off, and that's about it. You will never see me jump on the ropes or all excited and you will never see my corner do that.
PC: When can your fans expect to see you fight again?
GR: We are actually looking for we trying to figure that out now. We are looking at early next year.
PC: Congratulations on what could easily be Knockout of the Year. I wish you the best in 2013. Is there anything you want to leave us with?
GR: As long as you keep God first, everything else gonna follow; everything else!
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]