Undefeated 140 pound contender Gary Antuanne Russell says he is ready to fight the likes of Regis Prograis or Rolly Romero for a title by the end of the year.
Russell (17-0, 17 KOs) scored the eighth first-round knockout of his career on August 12, when he dropped and stopped Kent Cruz with a body shot, having already sent him to the canvas with a southpaw left hand. But when it was suggested to him during a recent episode of the Showtime Boxing Podcast that he might next look to face a fellow contender like Richardson Hitchens or Brandun Lee, Russell made it clear that he had bigger fish to fry.
“We’re not trying to go backward,” he said. “I’m going for Regis Prograis. Who else? Oh yeah, Rolly Romero. He’s ranked. I believe he has one of the titles. At first, it was Josh Taylor, but now I’ve been looking at Teofimo Lopez because he’s a titlist.”
The win over Cruz was Russell’s first fight in a year and only his fourth since February 2020, and he says he wants to be more active in the future – although, he points out, his recent inactivity owes a lot to some significant personal setbacks. The tightknit family was left reeling when Russell’s brother, Gary Boosa Russell, died of a heart attack aged just 25 in November 2019; and in May last year, the family patriarch and trainer, Gary Russell Sr., died of complications from diabetes.
“It was just a lot of grief and going through it,” he said. “Some things were just not all the way there. And if you’re not all the way mentally in this sport, you’re bound to get hurt badly.” Added to that, he said, was an injury to his hand.
“I hurt my left thumb in training camp,” he explained. “And I had to go to the orthopedics specialist and get my hand looked at. So, I was just like, ‘Hey, I guess this isn’t God’s speed.’ But we are ready for the next one.”
With the passing of Gary Sr., Russell’s older brother, former featherweight titlist Gary Jr., has taken over head training duties. Russell says, by keeping everything in family, the enforced switch has been seamless.
“It's kind of like, we got the muscle memory of that togetherness when we train,” he said. “Of course, you still got to pay. You got to wait for him to pull up at the gym. But I can call my brother at three in the morning, four in the morning like, ‘Hey, bro, I might be running a little late.’ Or ‘Hey, I'm gonna be here early.’ Or ‘What's the game plan? You want to change and do aquatic training this time?’ Whatever the case may be, you know, we can change the plans on the fly. And they're willing, because we all try to help each other. We're fueling each other. I guess that's the glory in being trained by my brothers.”