Gary Antuanne Russell doesn’t necessarily have a hit list of 140-pound champions.

If the left-handed knockout artist had to choose, however, Russell would want to challenge WBC super lightweight champ Regis Prograis when he gets his first title shot. Russell, who is the WBC’s second-ranked contender for Prograis’ title, maintained his position in those ratings by knocking out previously unbeaten Kent Cruz in the first round Saturday night of a scheduled 10-rounder Showtime televised from MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

“Me and Regis Prograis, mano a mano, size versus size,” Russell told “I’m pretty sure he’s gonna bring his physical best. He don’t get in there to play with his opponent or play with his food. He try to get his food and eat it. I like that type of competition, that stiff competition, the best competition. The best versus the best.”

Prograis, of course, appears headed for a title defense against undefeated, undisputed lightweight champ Devin Haney. A deal for Prograis-Haney hasn’t been completed, but promoter Eddie Hearn told various media outlets recently that he expects to close Haney’s side of the deal soon for a fall fight on a date and at a site to be determined.

Russell could see either Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs) or Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) winning that 12-round fight for Prograis’ crown.

“Styles make fights, so I’m not sure,” Russell said. “Haney has more of a finesse style. He’s a boxer. And if you ask me, a female can put on these eight-ounce gloves and crank up a hard enough shot to get your attention. And Haney, he has I believe the IQ to know how to set a person up. He’s a precision puncher when he wants to, but he has a problem with pressure fighters, people pressuring him. Lomachenko kinda exposed him to a degree, as far as throwing a lotta shots at one time, making Haney back up.

“And the way Haney responded to that, it kinda made people say, ‘Hmmm. Well, maybe if I were to throw a lotta punches or three-punch combinations at him, he’ll respond the same way.’ And that’s not a good thing. You’re supposed to be a well-rounded fighter when it comes to being a professional. Regis Prograis, that’s how he fights. He gonna bring the fight to you and he punch in numbers.”

The 27-year-old Russell (17-0, 17 KOs) brought punches in numbers versus Cruz (16-1-3, 10 KOs), whom he dropped twice in the first round. The Capitol Heights, Maryland resident landed a thudding left to Cruz’s body that sent the St. Louis native to the canvas until referee Bill Clancy counted to 10 just 2:39 into the opening round.

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