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Gary Russell Jr. backtracks from threats against Leo Santa Cruz’s father, explains his inactivity

Russell says he’s just angling for an ever-elusive unification fight.

Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

Apparently Gary Russell Jr.’s recent antics haven’t gone over to well, so has since come out to say how he really meant no harm to Leo Santa Cruz’s father while explaining why he just wants a unification match that he hasn’t been able to get. Check out some excerpts below.

Russell Jr. on what he has planned next:

“I’m supposed to be competing in December, I’m not sure who my opponent is yet. I wish it was a Leo Santa Cruz or Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, you know, one of these guys, but I gotta do what I gotta do at the end of the day.

“I’m still at [126], I have the ability to fluctuate in my weight. I want a unification match, I want to compete against Leo Santa Cruz. They say that he was one of the best in this particular division. How could you be the best if you didn’t everyone that’s in the division? You gotta compete against the other champions. Let’s unify, let’s make the fight happen. I wanna stay active, I want to compete.

“You know, a lot of the fans say that I’m only fighting once a year, you know, it’s not my fault. You know, I wanna fight. I can’t get none of the other guys to get in the ring and fight me, that’s the problem. So, we’ll see. Keep our fingers crossed.”

On if he’s unable to land any fights or if he’s only seeking meaningful fights:

“Well I don’t wanna fight a Joe Schmo, and to be honest with you, what Joe Schmo you know that’s really gonna wanna get in the ring just to fight me? It’s very difficult to find — they’re gonna ask for a whole lotta money, it’s gonna be difficult to try to pull something like that off. I’m to the point in my career where I only wanna fight the best. I only wanna fight people they are considering the best. I know I’m the best in my division. I have the most prestigious title that there is — the WBC title — why is that none of the other champions want it? It’s a reason for that.

“They don’t wanna fight me. I don’t think they wanna fight me. I think my skill set, you know, my tenacity inside and outside of the ring is something that pushes fighters away. I take my hat off to JoJo Diaz, I take my hat off to him. He was one of they guys who was willing to put everything on the line, you know, to try to create an opportunity for himself and I applaud him for that...”

On if he would still have problems finding opponents at 130:

“Of course! I think I’ll be even stronger and more effective at 130 than I am at 126. I wouldn’t have to cut weight...I can fight at 130, comfortably.”

On why he doesn’t just make the move up in weight:

“Leo’s still at 126. That’s the fight that I want. I really want that fight. I really want that fight. I want a unification match. None of the guys from overseas wanted to fight me, when Carl Frampton had the title he didn’t wanna fight me. When Lee Selby had the title he didn’t wanna fight me. When Josh Warrington had the title — he just mentioned my name while he’s already obligated to fight someone else. So it’s stuff like that that I’m up against...”

On his quickly infamous video with Santa Cruz’s father:

“Well you got a lot of ignorant people out here that doesn’t really know what’s going on. I would have loved to see Leo, you know, for some weird reason, I told Leo, I can’t get within 10 feet of Leo. It’s just so funny and ironic that I can see his dad. So ‘Leo, I can touch your dad, I can put my hands around him, I can put my arm around him. Why is it that I can’t do the same with you?’ Get in the ring.

“You have a lot of ignorant people out here that looked at that video and felt like I was trying to do something harmful Leo’s dad — that’s completely bogus. You know, I have a ton of respect for him, I have a ton of respect for Leo, just for us to be able to come up in the amateurs, you know, and still be at the top of our game...I have to take my hat off to his dad, to get his son to the point that he is. I know his father has issues — my father actually has issues as well, my father has been diagnosed with diabetes for the last, I don’t know how many years, and suffered strokes and etc. So I completely understand the health issues and conditions that goes on with both parties...

“To the ignorant people in the world that thought somebody was gonna do something to his dad, get your mind out the gutter. That was stupid. Let’s make the fight happen.

“It wasn’t me picking on an old guy, it was a thing of me picking on Leo. It wasn’t me trying to pick on his dad at all, for the record. I honestly like his dad, I think he’s a cool guy...”

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