"I actually watched that fight. I watched it (laughing). I thought...I figured Ponce De Leon would be a little bigger than Abner because Abner was moving up in weight, but I didn't think that would translate into a win because he's known to be busier than Ponce De Leon. I thought he would win, but nothing spectacular. I didn't see nothing spectacular out of neither one of them guys...it just shows me how easy it's gonna be for me to receive one of these world titles because I don't see anything special. I don't feel these guys possess the skill level that I have or the ability that I have as a fighter," stated undefeated featherweight contender Gary Russell Jr., who shared his thoughts on Abner Mares, as well as Daniel Ponce De Leon, and discussed his upcoming August 9 return to the ring. Check it out!
PC: It's been 6 months since the hand injury. How is the hand doing now?
GR: It's doing alright. I had a lot of time to rehab it, so hopefully everything is back to normal. We did a little bit of sparring just to test it out and see how it feel. Everything is feeling good, but you gotta be mindful that we doing everything in 20 oz. gloves; sparring and mitt work and bag work is in 20 oz. gloves to make sure we get extra protection and cushion on it, so we just treat it that way until we put them eights back on.
PC: Abner Mares is saying he wants to fight you and you haven't fought anyone. Ponce De Leon says he wants to fight you in September, but it would have to be at 130. What are your thoughts on these call outs and what's your next move?
GR: Man, we gonna go again on August 9th just to test it and see how the hand feels and God willing we get through it with no mishaps, and then we plan on my next fight being one of these title shots after that.
PC: Do you pay attention to the chatter?
GR: Nah, I don't pay attention to it, man. I really don't care too much about what people who don't have the vision say. I don't pay it no mind. I'm focused and I'm on top of my game and I'm ready. I feel as though a lot of these guys are trying to bite off a little more than they can chew and won't realize it until it's too late.
PC: You made it clear on our radio show that you've never seen any Mares fights, but you did say you would tune in to watch his fight with Ponce. Did you watch it, and if so, what are your thoughts?
GR: I actually watched that fight. I watched it (laughing). I thought...I figured Ponce De Leon would be a little bigger than Abner because Abner was moving up in weight, but I didn't think that would translate into a win because he's known to be busier than Ponce De Leon. I thought he would win, but nothing spectacular. I didn't see nothing spectacular out of neither one of them guys.
PC: You really feel like these guys are ordinary fighters.
GR: Yeah! That's honesty how I feel. I don't want to take anything away from these guys or want them to feel as though I'm just disrespecting them because I'm not by no means trying to disrespect any of these guys. They paid their dues and became world champions at some point in their career, and at this point in their career, they have accomplished more than I did. But with that being said, it just shows me how easy it's gonna be for me to receive one of these world titles because I don't see anything special. I don't feel these guys possess the skill level that I have or the ability that I have as a fighter. But everything is always different when you get in the ring, so we will see.
PC: Will your fight in August be at your regular weight of 126?
GR: Yeah, that's our comeback weight. We coming back at 26, give or take a pound, plus or minus.
PC: If all goes well with the hand in August, are you looking to fight again after that this year or let it rest in preparation for a big one?
GR: Yeah, most definitely looking to go again. If everything goes well on August 9th, we are gonna try to squeeze another fight in and that fight will be for one of these titles.
PC: What kind of work were you able to do while the hand was recuperating?
GR: It was so difficult and it honestly set me back awhile because after the hand injury, I couldn't jog or do anything that vibrated the hand or shook my hand. I was feeling it all and it was hurting it. I couldn't do too much of nothing, man. I was in so much pain. We had 8 weeks rehab and it was still hurting a little bit, so we had to go back and do a little more rehab and finally we turned the corner. We getting the extra work in. We training on Saturdays and I go in and get it in early on Saturdays so I can come home and spend time with the fam. But as of now, man, we feel good and feel confident that the hand will hold up.
PC: I can't let you go without talking about your brother, who won every award you can win as an amateur this year. I know you gotta be proud of all that he was able to accomplish.
GR: Most definitely, man. Most definitely. I got Gary Antonio that's doing his thing, man, and we are thinking about letting him actually make this turn to professional. Boxing is a hurt business. If we feel as though he is ready and prepared and he can make the necessary changes to become professional, we will do that. But at the end of the day, that's still my younger brother and our coach is our dad, so he will always have our best interest at hand and he wasn't willing to let me turn pro until he felt I was 100% prepared and ready to go pro. It's the little minor mistakes that makes it different in a professional round that you can get away with in the amateurs, but you will not get away with in the pros. Until we see that that's 100% corrected and he's breaking these bad habits and everything, that's when we will let him make this move. He's turning the corner and he's right there, but don't forget, I got another one. I got one more that's coming after him. That's Antonio; the one after him is Antwun, now he is going to be the truth. I feel as though he possesses the skills to be better than all of us.
PC: Are all of you guys southpaws?
GR: All southpaws. I do sparring with my brothers and they are bigger than me. My 17-year-old brother fights at 132 and Antonio is actually 122, so we are right around the same weight, but I can't sit down on my punches like I want because of course they are my brothers, but they give me better sparring than anyone I have ever had in camp. The only unfortunate part is the majority of the guys that we fight against are orthodox fighters, so the southpaw work doesn't really compliment me getting ready for a bout. I been doing a little sparring with them this week just to get back in the groove and they try their hand, I'm telling you (laughing). But Antonio is definitely putting that work in and he's following in my footsteps and I'm just blessed that I am able to lead them by example and know that they are watching everything that I'm doing and trying to accomplish what I'm doing, if not even more than what I'm doing. I'm glad that they are willing to do that.
PC: You come from an extremely talented family. We look forward to the comeback and we will definitely speak more leading up to the fight. Is there anything else you want to add?
GR: Not at all, man. I'm just looking forward to going back in on the 9th!