By Ryan Maquiñana
Aside from a sore shoulder, Gary Russell Jr. served notice to the elite featherweights in the world last night with an eight-round unanimous decision victory over heavy-handed Leonilo Miranda at the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Miss.
“His hands were O.K. this time,” Gary Russell Sr., the fighter’s trainer and father, told BoxingScene.com as he boarded a flight back to the Beltway. “His right shoulder was a little sore, but it should get a little bit better when we get home.”
Russell (18-0, 10 KOs), from Capitol Heights, Md., was hoping to build off a dazzling shutout performance on the Khan-Judah undercard in July against Eric Estrada when he effortlessly reeled off 10 and 12-punch combinations despite injuring his left hand in the first round.
He surely accomplished that endeavor even when Miranda (32-3, 30 KOs) played peekaboo with the top rope to unsuccessfully blunt Russell’s momentum.
“None whatsoever,” Russell Sr. said when asked about any issues he had with his son’s performance. “Well, there was that one point when [Miranda] went in the ropes and Gary should’ve jumped on him. It was an old veteran trick. Overall though he did what he had to do to win.”
With Russell’s adviser Al Haymon enjoying considerable influence on HBO (the fact that they uncharacteristically approved an eight-rounder here is an example), it’s only a matter of time until we see the ultra-talented 126-pounder in with a top 10 opponent. For now, however, his father wants to stay even-keeled.
“We’ll take our time and see what HBO and Al have to say,” Russell Sr. said. “It’s up to them, but we feel blessed. It was a good win, and my son’s getting better with each fight.”
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and The Ring’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at email@example.com, check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.