By Mitch Abramson
The undefeated featherweight, Garry Russell Jr. received some free publicity on Monday when promoter Bob Arum called the former U.S. Olympian just “another Al Haymon invention” during a conference call on Monday.
The promoter of Top Rank was responding to a question about Russell Jr. as a potential opponent for the undefeated Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa, who was hyping his Sept. 10 bout with Daniel Ponce de Leon during an international conference call. Arum answered in the negative, saying he never saw Russell up close and doesn’t view him as a likely opponent for Gamboa.
“As far as Gary Russell is concerned, I never saw him fight,” Arum said. “[He] seems to be another Al Haymon invention.”
Meanwhile, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who doesn’t have paper on Russell but has a close working relationship with Russell’s manager, Al Haymon, was kinder to Russell Jr. than Arum in discussing his big-fight future. He mentioned Ponce de Leon, whom Golden Boy does promote, as a possible opponent for Russell Jr. should he get past Gamboa and seemed to be addressing Arum’s comments head on when he said:
“Gary Russell would be happy to fight Gamboa anytime, anywhere,” Schaefer said on the conference call. “I know that Gary Russell will make some noise in the division as well.”
While dismissing Russell Jr., who has glided to a 17-0 record, Arum did mention former featherweight champ, Juan Manuel Lopez and bantamweight champ, Nonito Donaire as possible opponents for Gamboa down the road.
Russell will see action next on HBO on Sept. 3 against fellow southpaw Leonilo Miranda as the chief supporting bout for Andre Berto’s return to the ring against IBF welterweight champ, Jan Zaveck in Biloxi. Russell was one of the more decorated and talented boxers on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, but Russell never got a chance to compete in Beijing after he collapsed in his Olympic village dorm room from apparent dehydration.
Mitch Abramson covers the boxing scene for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.