"I had no idea (being elevated to 'regular champion') was happening and it was definitely a surprise. But it was a great surprise. Every fighter has aspirations of becoming a world champion. Anybody who watched absolutely knows I beat Brandon Rios (in a bout on April 14, 2012) and that I deserved the decision. Ever since then, in my heart, I always considered myself the WBA champion. The WBA only made it official.
"This motivates me even more to put on a good fight for the fans and show them that I'm the real deal."
"I don't think anybody is satisfied fighting for an interim title. We want a full title, a world title. I've been waiting my whole life for this chance. Uganda is one of the poorest countries on the planet. Most people don't know how hard it's been to get from where I started to where I'm at now. Fighting for the WBA title is an opportunity of a lifetime.
"People talk about my ring entrance, and that's really good. It's gotten me a lot of attention. They may not know my name, but they've maybe heard of the kid and his lion. I'm confident that after Saturday, people will know my name and know who I am.''
Gary Russell Jr
"I'm satisfied with the way my career is going and at the pace it's going. I refuse to listen to anybody who says anything negative about it. I think in a couple more fights I'll be ready to challenge for a world title.
"I'm not overlooking anybody. I've seen tapes of Gusev and he seems to have that classic European style, although he does try and box. He certainly has the potential to be a spoiler. He's the type that if you allow him to set the pace, he'll run up the points on you. I expect a good fight on Saturday."
"I'm very relaxed, calm and confident. I've seen some of Russell's fights and know he is a very good fighter.
"I'm excited about this fight and looking forward to it. It's not going to be easy, but I am here to win. I didn't come all this way to lose."