Vasyl Lomachenko vs Gary Russell Jr conference call quotes

Ethan Miller

Vasyl Lomachenko and Gary Russell Jr discuss their June 21 showdown for the vacant WBO featherweight title on Showtime.

Q
You have been very critical of the fact that this fight is taking place, even though it is for a title. Have any of your feelings changed or do you still feel that he hasn't earned his position in this fight?

G. Russell Jr.
Honestly, none of my feelings have changed. I feel as though I'm a firm in believer in God, and I believe that everything happens for a reason. If this is the guy that we have to use as a stepping-stone to navigate out of the level we're on to a different level then so be it. You know we'll have to stand ready, we'll work and we're ready to go.

Q
You also said in the past that this is a fight where Top Rank is going against an Al Haymon fighter. Did you want to share any feelings about that?

G. Russell Jr.
Well, like I said, honestly it's a big honor to break the cycle of the Al Haymon and Bob Arum Top Rank and Golden Boy dissent, because I think you have these great fighters you know on both sides of the fence that the fans would love to see, but now it's a possibility to fulfill them or give them a possibility to see it, because of the ongoing situation with them.

I think it's a big breakthrough for me and Lomachenko to be able to be one of the first to actually do it, and hopefully this will open the door for a lot of the other fights that the fans would want to see take place.

Q
Carl, do you have any opinion about what he just said? I mean he says he sees this fight as a breakthrough. Obviously, this is just one fight, and there's a lot that has gone on in the so-called cold war. Do you have any opinion about what Gary just said?

C. Moretti
Well, I think that's what the media and social media likes to jump on, but you know at the end of the day I just can't see in the middle of the sixth round guys rooting for Al or Bob. It's a fight, and the fight Lomachenko has to worry about is Gary Russell and Gary Russell has got to worry about Lomachenko, and anything other than that is just Twitter talk, which people seem to love lately.

Q
Can you talk about Gary's comments; he has said in the past that Vasyl hasn't really earned his position to be in this fight. Obviously, he took a big step in going for a title in his second professional fight. Can you talk a little bit about that?

V. Lomachenko
Gary thinks from one point-of-view and I see from one point-of-view. After June 21 everybody will see from a different point-of-view, and we can talk more details after the fight is over.

Q
There's a chance he is facing kind of an uphill climb potentially being 1-2 as a professional in only his third professional fight? I mean is there any pressure that he's feeling?

V. Lomachenko
No, I don't feel any pressure. I don't feel anything, because I already have the one loss. I think Gary Russell is the one who needs to be thinking about that loss.

Q
How do you keep your emotions in check heading into such a big moment in your career?

G. Russell Jr.
I feel like this is something I've worked for so long for. I think that it is destiny, and I believe that some people who haven't, they're about ready to find out. All I have to do is work hard. My family is my motivation. You get all your motivation and energy from them.

My worst fear that I always talk to my little brother about is disappointment. You know not disappointment from anyone else, but just disappointment from my family, my brothers, my mom, my dad, my wife, my kids, and etc. There's no one on the planet that will make me feel that way, other than them. This is an occupation, this is what we do, and it's something that I excel at. You know I can't wait.

Q
What's your thought on the criticism you've received in terms of the lack of quality opponents that you've faced so far as a pro?

G. Russell Jr.
Oh, man, there's going to be criticism anyway. My dad told me you could never please everybody. You know we wanted to get to maybe 23- 0, you know 22-, 23-0 before we competed for a world title. And one of the reasons why is based on the fact that you can be an elite amateur, but when you go into professional it's a completely different world, you're not going full rounds, you know you're going 10, 12 hard rounds with guys that are putting in that extra work, and this is the only way that you can gain experience by getting these rounds in. We don't want to take things like that for granted by not getting the rounds in.

Q
Do you believe that on the way to the opportunity to fight for the world title that there should be a fight against a top-level opponent, a contender to earn that position?

G. Russell Jr.
I feel as though it all goes back into the comfort level of the fighter as far as the level of experience that you get in with. I feel as though the experience that we got in with the fighters that we competed against was picture perfect, and it will show up on June 21.

Q
Is it his opinion between fighting Ramirez and Orlando Salido, a veteran, a world champion, that in just two professional fights his opponent level has already exceeded the opponent level that Gary had fought in his first 24 fights?

V. Lomachenko
I didn't see all the fights, and I didn't see all the opponents, but as far as I saw opponents I can probably compare a few guys who were close to Jose Ramirez or maybe even to Jose Ramirez, but I've never seen any of them being as far as Salido.

Q
Do you feel like that experience against Salido, even though you're now just the two fights into your professional career, that he learned a lot in that fight that will help him when it comes time to fight Gary?

V. Lomachenko
Of course I learned how to adjust to professional boxing, because I've never been in the ring so much. But I think just fighting the 12 rounds with Orlando Salido I got to experience more if I would be fighting just regular level guys for two years.

Q
You guys were both, Gary and Vasyl, great, great amateur fighters; did you ever come across each other in the amateurs, did you ever spar with each other, did you ever fight each other as amateurs?

V. Lomachenko
We did not, but I believe we had one opponent both of us faced in the amateurs and that was a Russian who Gary Russell lost to and a couple of years later I defeated.

Q
Gary, had you and Vasyl ever encountered each other as amateurs and/or fought each other, ever sparred. He said no. He said that he beat a guy that had beaten you a couple years earlier before he fought him. Do you have any recollection of that, or did you ever fight him or spar him?

G. Russell Jr.
I've never fought him, never sparred him. I honestly don't even know if we had a common opponent. If he said we did then it's very possible. We both competed internationally. I honestly didn't hear about Lomachenko until I was already a professional,.

Q
Obviously, by taking on Gary, you're not slowing down your pace at all. Was there a discussion about doing that, though? What's the urgency?

V. Lomachenko
Well, I'm not looking at it like a ladder, like I'm stepping up or stepping down. I just have another chance to fight for the title, and you know this is my dream and desire is to get one and I have a chance and, of course, I'm going to take it. Then after the Salido fight I didn't know who it was going to be, Gary Russell or somebody else. I didn't care, I just said make me the fight for the title.

Q
Gary, was Vasyl ever on your radar, even whether as an amateur or even once he turned pro a couple of years ago?

G. Russell Jr.
Like I said, in the amateurs I'd never heard of him. In the amateurs the only time I heard of Lomachenko was once he had turned professional and there was a possibility I'd be competing against him for the world title. I never ran across him in amateurs at all.

Q
Was there ever frustration on your part about wondering, you have all this talent, but yet something was just holding you back from getting to the top level?

G. Russell Jr.
No, no, I never had any frustrations. Like I said, my team and me had a game plan that we wanted to get the strength in as a professional. Like you said, you see these guys before that have been stellar amateurs and can't make the necessary adjustments as professionals. We wanted to get the rounds in, we wanted to learn the ins and outs as a professional before we competed for a world title. We had a little minor hiccup here and there, but other than that we stayed on course and we're right on track.

Q
So I want to give you the opportunity, what fights have been negotiated where guys have wanted to get into the ring and for whatever reason it just didn't happen?

G. Russell Jr.
Oh, we wanted to fight Lopez; it never happened. We wanted to fight Johnny Gonzalez, he didn't take the fight. Well, it is what it is. I think everything in life happens for a reason. I think this worked out perfectly for me to get my first world title against Lomachenko.

Q
Have you watched his two fights, and if so what did you take away from it?

G. Russell Jr.
We did watch his first professional fight and the Salido fight. I've seen from the work that he still competes like an amateur, he still fights like an amateur that turned professional, he fights like an amateur that hasn't gotten the rounds in.

I think that he's talented, but I think that he's overlooking just the rounds that you have to get in as a professional to get the certain experience in.

Q
Do you feel like now that the stage is set this is definitely the right time for this title fight?

G. Russell
This is definitely the right time for the title fight. Like I said and Lomachenko would probably understand where I'm coming from on this, you know when you have these guys that are competing for the Olympics what they normally do to familiarize that particular country you know with the other countries that are out there they compete in duals. They compete in duals, U.S. versus Canada, U.S. versus Cuba, etc. The reason why is to gain the experience and familiarize yourself with different opposition.

Q
What do you feel separates you guys come June 21?

G. Russell
Oh, of course I think my hand speed will definitely be a big factor. I understand you could probably bring guys in to kind of mimic my style, but if they have the hand speed they don't have the punching ability, and if they have my punching ability they don't have my hand speed. There's no way possible for them to duplicate what it is that I'm going to bring to the table on June 21.

Q
Does he feel the criticism that fighting for a couple titles with only three fights is kind of unfair and unwarranted being that it's kind of a double standard?

V. Lomachenko
Not everybody has a chance to go so far, and when I thought I had the chance I worked hard for it, and I think I earned it. Again, somebody can fight five years and not have a single chance to get to a title fight. I'm going to do it. I'm confident I can do it, and I will try to do it.

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