WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) isn’t exactly the model of consistency — as far as his fight schedule goes — but he’ll be back in action tomorrow night against Joseph “JoJo” Diaz (26-0, 14 KOs) with his title belt on the line.
Russell, 29, has fought exactly once in each of the last three years and this may well be the only fight he has this year. But despite the relative inactivity, the featherweight titleholder says he’s not feeling any pressure to keep busier.
“It’s a business. It’s definitely a business,” Russell said. “I’m not anxious (to fight more often). When it comes to earning potential, it’s definitely a business first before fighting. Whenever we do compete we’re going to make sure we maximize our coin because regardless of what our occupation is we want a sense of financial stability. And then a lot of these guys (in the featherweight division) aren’t really in a rush to get in the ring with Mr. Gary Russell Jr.”
Conversely Jr.’s father/trainer Gary Russell Sr. says that he wishes his son was fighting more often, and that they’ve asked for some big fights in the division but they just don’t seem to come together.
“I don’t like it,” Russell Sr. said of the inactivity. “I want him to fight more. Three times (per year) at least. My hands are tied. I give him advice. I advocated for more fights, it didn’t happen. I really want him to fight more.”
Russell Sr. continues by saying that while they’ve asked for credible opponents to face, those opponents simply aren’t eager to face his son and therefore all manager Al Haymon can offer is lesser money for essentially the same risk. That being the case, Haymon’s advice has been to simply wait it out in order to maximize the dollar.
Should Russell Jr. successfully defend his title this Saturday, the hope is that they may land a significant fight this fall, potentially against the winner of Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares.