NEW YORK – The death of his father two months ago hasn’t distracted Gary Antuanne Russell.

The loss of the patriarch of the Russell family, who trained all of his sons, actually has enhanced the junior welterweight contender’s focus throughout training camp for his 10-round fight against Rances Barthelemy on Saturday night. Gary Antuanne Russell is even more motivated to accomplish the things Gary Russell Sr. envisioned for his boxing career now that his father is gone.

“It got me more tunnel vision,” Russell said during a press conference Thursday at Barclays Center. “That support system I once had isn’t there. You know, but he instilled us all with a lot of tools and information that’ll keep us going. Now that he’s not there, I think it’s making me more focused and focusing on the things that he did teach us. You know, being more tunnel vision on the things that he wanted us to get to.

“We all had an initial goal as a family – me, mister Gary Russell, Gary Allen Russell, all of the Russells, including my father. My father gave us the blueprint. We’re just tryin’ to strive to keep it going, you know, fulfill that plan.

Former WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. has taken over as the head trainer for Gary Antuanne Russell and bantamweight contender Gary Antonio Russell since their father died May 23 at the age of 63 from complications caused by Type-2 diabetes. Gary Russell Jr. worked closely with his brothers in the gym throughout their careers and always worked their corners, thus this transition period has gone smoothly.

“I wouldn’t want to have an unfamiliar person in my camp, so it’s great to have my brother, Gary Jr., training me,” Gary Antuanne Russell said. “If I can’t trust the person in my corner, then my fight would be real unfortunate probably. It’s a bittersweet thing, but it makes the transition easier.”

Gary Antuanne Russell (15-0, 15 KOs) is a 14-1 favorite to beat Barthelemy (29-1-1, 15 KOs, 1 NC), according to Caesars Sportsbook, in a bout that’ll open Showtime’s tripleheader from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The powerful southpaw from Capitol Heights, Maryland predicted that he’ll keep his perfect knockout record intact against a crafty Cuban contender who has never been stopped inside the distance.

"[Rances Barthelemy], I’m pretty sure he wanna make some things happen for his country,” Russell said. “Look, he got a goal. I got a goal, too. At the end of the day, this is a game of wits – his will versus my will, you know, his goal versus my goal. Saturday, the 30th, like I said, Barclays Center gonna be open. Don’t meet me there, beat me there. You know, I’m ready to put on a show. I been trainin’, I been going back and forth in my mind about the things I gotta do.

“And right now, all I’m focusin’ on is gettin’ through this fight date. And that’s one of the things that I definitely gotta do to move on to this next mission. We drawin’ lines as we go forward. You know, once we got past this, we gonna draw a line and keep it goin’. That’s that.”

After Russell and Barthelemy box at the start of a telecast scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET, Adam Kownacki (20-2, 15 KOs), a heavyweight from Brooklyn, and Turkish contender Ali Eren Demirezen (16-1, 12 KOs) are set to square off in the 10-round co-feature. Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs) will make his 154-pound debut in the main event, a 12-round fight against Phoenix native Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-1-1, 18 KOs).

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.