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Gary Russell Jr targets fight with Jhonny Gonzalez, then Abner Mares

Gary Russell Jr says he's looking to secure his first world title shot, as he wants to take on Jhonny Gonzalez for the WBC featherweight title, then face Abner Mares.

Scott Heavey
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr sounds ready to stop fighting overmatched patsies and take on a tougher challenge, telling that he's trying to push for a fight with newly-crowned WBC featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez for his next fight, after which he'd like to face press rival Abner Mares.

"We were planning on fighting Abner after this fight. So what's going on now is that we're putting in a bid to fight Jhonny Gonzalez. We're really trying to get Gonzalez, now, and, hopefully, we get the fight with Gonzalez. You know, Al Haymon has a good partnership with Golden Boy, so it's pretty easy to get things done. My next fight was going to be against Abner, maybe at the end of November, maybe December. Somewhere around there. I would have rather fought Abner Mares, because he's got such a great fan base and more of a following and all of that, so of course I would have rather gotten Abner than Jhonny. But it's all good. Once I beat Jhonny and take his belt, then we could do a fight with Abner."

Russell (23-0, 13 KO) has been rather heavily and legitimately criticized for facing overmatched opposition rather than trying to work his way up the ladder, as he's stayed pretty much stuck on the same level for a while now, even taking a pretty significant step back against Juan Ruiz in his August 9 fight in Indio, California, a matchup so lousy it didn't even make a ShoBox broadcast. Few doubt the talent of the 25-year-old Russell, but boxing proves all the time, year in and year out, that there's more to this sport than just ability. Russell has not had his mettle tested in the pro ranks.

Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer recently made comments about Russell fighting for a world title by the end of 2013, too, so it doesn't seem like he's just blowing smoke or anything. At the time, Schaefer would not make any specific statements, but at the time, Mares seemed the only option. With Abner dropping his belt, Gonzalez (55-8, 47 KO) is certainly the most realistic option for Russell, and I think it's a really interesting fight.

Would Gonzalez be able to stun another unbeaten, hyped fighter, or would Russell prove out against by far his toughest foe?

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