"I don't think my fans have seen me actually kick it into gear. I have been winning these fights on cruise control. I never really had to pop the clutch and really make things happen. So when it's necessary to do that, it's going to be completely different. But I think he's definitely beatable. I will definitely watch the Abner Mares and Ponce fight, but other than that, I have never seen him fight. It's no disrespect to him. I heard his name; I knew that he was a smaller guy moving up in weight, I did hear that, but a lot of it, I was hearing through the grapevine. I have never seen him fight," stated undefeated featherweight contender Gary Russell Jr., who recently made an appearance on FightHype Radio to discuss his future plans and much more! Check it out!
FR: I know you will definitely be gunning for your first title soon, but how much longer can you make featherweight? Is it difficult to make the weight or do you make it comfortably?
GR: I make it comfortably. I walk around at about 135; 134 or 35. It's never really a big deal. I'm one of these guys that get in a nice decent workout and lose 4 pounds. I'm just one of those types of people. We are definitely good when it comes to weight. Unfortunately, once we get a title, more than likely, I won't defend it. A lot of these guys can have it back because I will move up to 130. It's definitely bigger fish out here. When my career is over, we want to be able to say we held titles at multiple weight classes. I have the skill level to do it and the talent to pull it off, so we are gonna make it happen.
FR: Some of the names in your division...obviously you guys are looking to maximize your earning potential as well as work on your legacy. Right now, there just aren't that many names that will be available for you to fight because half of them are with Top Rank, and that feud there is going to prevent a lot of those fights from happening.
FR: Even at 130, I'm not sure how many names will be there, so I'm just curious, how soon do you want to start making your move?
GR: We definitely don't have a problem with meeting these guys at catchweights. That's not a problem. We want to maximize my earning potential, like you said. Boxing is something that is very short lived. It goes as long as the body allows you to. Me, as a person and as a fighter, I will definitely not be a fighter that sticks around longer than time permits me to. I remember I was like 3 fights into my career and I saw this guy who fought one of the Klitschko Brothers. I was only 3-0 at the time. He fought for I know at least $2 million or so, and 6 months after the fight, I seen him driving this big truck and the grill was messed up and he had like a donut tire on it. And at the time, I think I had an I30 Infiniti and my vehicle looked better than his and I was like, that makes no sense. So either one or two things happened. Either he just really got worked for his money or his money managing skills is just completely out of the window; either way, that opened my eyes that from this point moving forward, every fight I have is to prepare me for my retirement, so this is what we are doing because we know this is short lived. I am only 24 years old, but I have been competing as a fighter in general for at least 17 years. So it's a lot of wear and tear on your body, even for me, when I was a little child. So yeah man, I'm not doing this for long. We gonna make it one shot, we gonna cross our T's and dot our I's because we got one chance; one shot at it. And then we gonna move on and I will have fun with my kids and watch them grow up.
FR: I am a huge fan of your skills and I think a lot of people sleep on that, but what is going to make you more marketable and make people understand who you are, where you come from, and your skills in the ring so that you can get the bigger paydays and bigger fights? Right now you are kind of flying under the radar. The true boxing heads know you and know your skill level, but for the casual boxing fan, how can we get them to know more about you?
GR: Everything happens in due time. I have to do exactly what I do now. I'm never the one to change who I am for anyone. I feel as though I am a great fighter and I feel as though I have a skill level that is head and shoulders over the guys that do have these titles out here. I think what will win over peoples' eyes is once I do compete against these guys, I'm not just gonna beat 'em; it's gonna be the way that I beat them that's gonna stand out. It's gonna be so easy. A lot of people say, "Well, the guys he is fighting now is too easy for him," so what happens when I fight these top household names and the fight look just as easy? That's what's going to stand out and make the difference. We ready (laughing)!
FR: I think we all know you are ready because skills kill, but I do think they are gonna have to put you in with some type of name for you to put your stamp on it.
GR: Most definitely. That's exactly what I'm talking about, but again, it goes back to when I do compete against these guys, the way that I beat them is what's going to make the difference. This guy is a household name and he is this and he is that, and then it's just a slaughter.
FR: I heard you say earlier about the Mares/Ponce De Leon winner, that's a fight that you would consider?
GR: Oh yeah, most definitely.
FR: I think that's the one that would put you on the map, Gary. I will leave it at that, but I think that's the one. How do you see that fight playing out?
GR: I'm not sure. Honestly, I'm gonna be so honest with you guys right now. I'm so in sync with my essence as a fighter and who I am as a fighter, I honestly don't watch fights. I don't take nothing away from the other fighters because a lot of fighters might look at that as being disrespectful, but that's definitely not the case. I have never seen Abner Mares fight. I seen Ponce De Leon fight before.
FR: You probably saw him fight Adrien Broner?
GR: I never even saw that fight. I didn't see Adrien Broner fight Ponce De Leon. Me and my team had talked about fighting Ponce De Leon and I heard he gave Broner problems, so I looked online a little bit. I watched him fight and he is awkward, he is a southpaw, and he looks so beatable. I think what I bring to the table, I bring a different level; not just the talent, but the ring smarts is just ridiculous. I don't think my fans have seen me actually kick it into gear. I have been winning these fights on cruise control. I never really had to pop the clutch and really make things happen. So when it's necessary to do that, it's going to be completely different. But I think he's definitely beatable. I will definitely watch the Abner Mares and Ponce fight, but other than that, I have never seen him fight. It's no disrespect to him. I heard his name; I knew that he was a smaller guy moving up in weight, I did hear that, but a lot of it, I was hearing through the grapevine. I have never seen him fight.
FR: What was up with 50 Cent trying to sign you when you were with Al Haymon? Is that something that you really thought about or were you surprised that he even tried to reach out to you? How did that come about?
GR: Honestly, 50 Cent didn't reach out to me. It was someone who he works with.
FR: Tommy Smalls?
GR: I will keep them anonymous.
FR: You don't have to say it; I know how they operate. It was Tommy Smalls...Tommy Summers, we know.
GR: Someone who he works with. You off the hook (laughing). I just wanna let you know that on the air. But anyway, they reached out. We are 100% content with where we are with Al Haymon. It is a thing of loyalty, but it's also business as well. I don't take anything away from 50 Cent. He started his thing with promoting fighters, but we are just 100% content with where we are. We are 100% content with the money we are making, the power that my advisor has in the sport, and the opportunities that he can open for me as a fighter. The signing bonus that he was willing to give me was decent, but where I'm headed in my career, that's change. I'm looking at the future and the money in the long run versus this short come-up money. So that's pretty much what that was. It wasn't a shot at 50 Cent. Realistically, we do have a working relationship with Golden Boy, but we are not actually signed with Golden Boy. I'm still a free agent, but we definitely have a working relationship with Golden Boy and everything is perfectly fine with the way they are able to move me as a fighter. But I'm still a free agent, like I said though, and you never know how things might go.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]