Gary Russell Jr still isn't concerned about any critics taking shots at the molasses-slow progress of his pro boxing career, and promoter Richard Schaefer says that without naming names, Russell will fight for a world title before 2013 is over.
Russell (22-0, 13 KO) returns on Friday against Juan Ruiz, a guy who hasn't won since beating Wayne McCullough in 2008. He's lost six straight and nine of his last ten, and the matchup genuinely deserves to be called what it is: a pointless waste of a time for a fighter who is well past this level of opponent.
Here's what Russell told Lem Satterfield:
"I personally don't care what people have to say about my opponent, you know," said Russell. "At the end of the day, I'm the one that is in the ring competing against him. We're managing my career the way that we want our career to go. We've only got one shot at it. We're going to cross our 'T's' and dot our 'I's.'"
Schaefer targeting featherweight world titlists for Russell would indicate that he hopes to match the 25-year-old prospect against WBC titlist Abner Mares, or, um...well, not sure. Chris John (WBA) would seem unlikely, as would the Salido-Cruz winner (WBO), and Evgeny Gradovich (IBF). Gradovich is working with Top Rank, John is working at home, and the Salido-Cruz winner could happen, given that neither is technically signed with Top Rank, but they've also been working with Top Rank, and will on their title fight on October 12. WBA "regular" titlist Nicholas Walters is possible, I suppose.
Mares recently said that Russell hasn't faced any A-level opponents, which I guess you could see as a shot, but it's a simple fact. It's not like anybody is saying anything about Russell that isn't just totally legitimate, so it's good he's not offended or anything, because he really shouldn't be. He knows the schedule he's kept and the opponents he's faced, and he understands how boxing media and other fighters are going to perceive that. So he's taking it in stride, which is a good thing, all things considered.
Will we see Russell fight for a title this year or not?