LOS ANGELES – If he could have it any other way, Gary Antuanne Russell would have claimed 20 knockouts in a row by now and on his way to his first world title.

Of all the things he can control in his career and especially in the ring, the one thing beyond the grasp of the junior welterweight knockout artist is how often he gets to fight.

“I definitely want to stay more active. That’s always been the plan, but the pandemic slowed things down,” Russell told BoxingScene.com ahead of his first fight in more than a year. “Fans always coming to me saying I need to get back in there, that they want to see more of these ass kickings. I tell them, ‘Hey me too!’

“The fighters are not the ones always pulling the strings. Should I be more active? Of course. I want to be more active.

I want to rule the 140-pound division. I don’t want nobody else in the 140 pound division to get up there and say, ‘This is my weight class.’ Nah, they’re all just runner ups. This is my division.”

Russell (13-0, 13KOs) finally has the chance to resume his career, as he faces Puerto Rico’s Jovanie Santiago (14-1-1, 10KOs) in the opening slot of a Showtime-televised tripleheader from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The hard-hitting 24-year-old southpaw from Capitol Heights, Maryland fights for the first time since last February, appearing on the non-televised undercard of his older brother, Gary Russell Jr. who defended his WBC featherweight title in a 12-round win over previously unbeaten Tugstsogt Nyambayar.

It was a much shorter night at the office for the younger Russell, who stopped Jose Marrufo in the 1st round of a scheduled 10-round affair. The win was his 13th, all by knockout and inside of three years as a pro. The coronavirus pandemic brought his career to a grinding halt, though now eager to make up for lost time.

“I want to fight for a world title by four more, maybe three more fights,” notes Russell. “I know I need to be more active in order to do that. So, I have to go out there on Saturday, make a statement like I always do and then get these guys in the ring with me—Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis and Teofimo Lopez, they’re moving up. [Undisputed junior welterweight champ] Josh Taylor just won. “I called out Robert Easter and I called out Adrien Broner. I didn’t get the chance.

“I called them out before the pandemic but was on the waiting list. The fighters aren’t the shot callers like that. If I had full control of my career like that, I’d be looking at Josh Taylor directly. I’d be looking at Adrien Broner directly. That’s something on my chopping block. After I take care of my business on Saturday, I want all that to come into play.”

Russell-Santiago opens a Showtime tripleheader, topped by WBC bantamweight titlist Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12KOs) versus former four-division champ Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26KOs) in a 12-round title fight.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox