By Ryan Maquiñana
Save for the hardcore, not too many fight fans outside the United Kingdom know much about Paul Truscott after he was announced to be undefeated featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr.’s opponent this Saturday.
However, the 25-year-old Truscott (17-2, 2 KOs) has logged more than twice as many pro rounds as the precocious Russell. In addition, “Trussy” went the full 12 rounds in 2008 when he captured the Commonwealth featherweight title in only his 11th fight before losing it to John Simpson, the man who has dealt him his only two defeats as a pro.
Still, Russell (16-0, 10 KOs) arrives in Las Vegas the prohibitive favorite as the 2008 Olympian from Capitol Heights, Md., makes his HBO debut on the Amir Khan-Zab Judah undercard at the Mandalay Bay. Truscott, a native of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, U.K., sat down with this writer to discuss his status as an underdog and how he plans to end up victorious.
BoxingScene: Hi, Paul. Thanks for taking time out to talk to us. How were you contacted about the fight?
Truscott: My manager Mick Mardsen handles all that. By what I gather, we’ve been talking to Hatton Promotions about signing with them and then they offered us this fight.
BoxingScene: You're undefeated at junior lightweight, with your only two losses coming to John Simpson four pounds below at 126 for the Commonwealth featherweight title. Did having to lose the extra four pounds contribute to your performance in the two Simpson fights? In other words, do you feel stronger at 130?
Truscott: I honestly don't think the weight is a problem. I do feel better at 130, but I wasn't getting my chance. I’ve been sitting around for two years waiting! I’ve been promised this and that and them not coming off. So this was offered and I talked to Kerry Kayes about nutrition, and he said I could do it (at 126) for this fight and be strong, so I said let's do it!
BoxingScene: You only have two knockouts out of your 17 wins, but Russell hasn't seen a boxer as tall as you before with a long jab like yours and a solid short right hand to the body. Of course, in this instance, Russell is a southpaw. Have you seen any film on him and if so, what do you think about his style?
Truscott: Yeah, I watched him on YouTube. He’s a good fighter and he’s got a big future in front him, but I really think this is my time. I’ve waited long enough! Plus, he has never seen a 126-pounder as big as me. I'm also a good body puncher for a big fighter! I'd rather fight a southpaw. I'm used to southpaws. That's all I sparred coming up in the gym.
BoxingScene: How do you see the fight playing out? Another thing about Russell is that he’s an accomplished amateur, but he hasn’t logged as many pro rounds as you, and his stamina could be tested if it goes all ten rounds.
Truscott: I think he will probably come out banging but I got a good chin and love a fight! I think he’ll be sharp for four rounds and then I'll start to get to him. I think I'll wear him down and bully him in the end but I should box and move. I'm the type of fighter that can make adjustments mid-fight so I'm looking forward to the challenge.
BoxingScene: This is your first fight in the U.S., and in Las Vegas of all places. What do you have to say to American fans who have never seen you fight before or those who see your record and feel that Russell should win decisively? Does that bother you at all?
Truscott: No, not at all. He’s a good fighter and he’s from the U.S., so they are going to be cheering for him, but remember there’s going to be a lot of British there for Khan, too, so I'm excited! The only thing I would say to the U.S. fans is if you like a fighter who gives 100 percent and a little bit more if needed, then I'm that type of fighter. I don't quit and I try my hardest no matter what. Plus, I'm a winner. There’s no way I’ve come this far to lose. No way. I haven’t seen my son for two weeks. That's the longest I’ve gone without seeing him, so that's why I'm so motivated to win by any means necessary.
BoxingScene: Like you said, you're definitely going to have some fans traveling with you from the U.K. to support you and Amir. Tell me how important it is to see the Union Jack flying throughout the Mandalay Bay. Do you think that will add a little adrenaline while you're doing your ringwalk? What do you want the British fans to say about Paul Truscott when the fight is over?
Truscott: Yeah, it does but I pretty much get tunnel vision when its time to fight! I'm a single-minded type person. I'm confident and I'm always sure of myself. I love the fans whether they want me to win or not. I always try to give them their money’s worth because at the end of the day, if it wasn't for them, us fighters wouldn’t get chances like this. I always look to give them what they want and if I succeed in giving them that as well as winning, I'm a happy man! I love to hear when people say that you can fight and you entertain because that's why we’re prizefighters—to entertain.
BoxingScene: Thanks, Paul, and good luck with final preparations.
Truscott: Thank you, and cheers!