Gary Russell Jr. is set to face Patrick Hyland this Saturday, and despite insisting that he's not looking past this fight, he is still fully aware of the surrounding landscape in his division. In particular, Russell (26-1, 15 knockouts) would like to emphatically avenge his only loss to two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko -- to whom he lost a wide decision nearly two years ago.
Russell says he entered that fight extremely dehydrated after using a faulty scale that caused him to miscalculate his own weight - ultimately requiring him to do late dramatic cut which wore on him physically.
"He's going to see me again," Russell told a small group of reporters, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt that framed his nearly expressionless, relaxed features. "I'll stop him. I'll stop him and it's done. He should have stopped me. He should have knocked me out in that particular fight. The state that I was in, I felt like I should have been stopped. The punches that were thrown weren't affecting me. I never got buzzed or dizzy."
But Lomachenko isn't the only target on the featherweight's hit list, he's also interested in getting a shot at either Lee Selby or Leo Santa Cruz in the near future.
"Lee Selby is a world champion for a particular reason," Russell said. "With that being said, I still don't feel as though he possesses the full ability to stop me. I definitely want to unify with Lee Selby. If he's not there, then we'll go directly to Leo Santa Cruz."
Russell doesn't see Santa Cruz as much of a threat to him, referencing his meeting with him in the amateur ranks as the reason why Santa Cruz didn't make the U.S. Olympic team. He also feels that Santa Cruz was somewhat exposed in his fight against Kiko Martinez this past February.
So according to Russell, Santa Cruz and a number of others fighters are still the same guys they were from their amateur days -- but he views himself as a multi-dimensional fighter who can transcend their respective skill sets. Now it's only onward and upward for Russell Jr.