Longtime 126-pound titleholder Gary Russell Jr. is not sure what more he can do to get Gervonta Davis to fight him.
After all, the two share the same manager (Al Haymon), appear on the same network (Showtime), were both raised in the DMV area (Russell in D.C., Davis in Baltimore), and fight in and around the same weight class. It does not not hurt either that both have traded words over the past couple of years.
Most of all, Russell thinks the fight would represent Davis’ biggest payday of his career (and, conversely, Russell’s). In fact, he believes it would sell more pay-per-views than whatever Davis put up with his recent opponent Mario Barrios. Davis knocked out Barrios in the 11th round of a 140-pound clash at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta last month.
“It’s not like the fight won’t sell,” Russell, 33, said on The PBC Podcast. “You can still fight anywhere. It’ll sell more than him and Barrios. I guarantee you our numbers will do more than what he just did. Whatever his pay-per-view numbers were [with Barrios] our numbers would be much higher than that.”
Russell (31-1, 18 KOs), however, believes that Davis’ inner circle, particularly his promoter of record, Floyd Mayweather, wants nothing to do with him. Russell has long been critical of Mayweather for coddling Davis.
“It makes sense business wise if you’re looking at the financial gain, but it doesn’t make sense if you’re trying to protect your investment for the long run, for Floyd and Gervonta, because I’mma burn Tank’s a-- up,” Russell said.
Asked what it would take to get Davis in the ring with him, Russell surmised that it would require Russell to turn in a subpar performance in one of his future fights.
“Probably for [Davis] to see me fight and show signs of slowing down or signs of rust or something along those lines,” Russell responded. “Maybe Floyd and them just gotta grow some nuts and say f--- it let’s make the fight happen.”
Although Davis (25-0, 24 KOs) is one of the most explosive fighters in the lower weight classes, Russell was not exactly impressed by his defense in the Barrios fight.
“I thought he was losing,” said Russell. “He had determination. He had to be determined to go out there and still get a win. But he was losing. He was down on the cards. He needed to hit the guy and hurt him. This is not the first time we saw Gervonta down on the scorecards. The problem is a lot of these guys aren’t defensively sound. They’re not actual technicians. If they were a little bit more defensively sound and on top of that, Gervonta would have lost that fight.”
A potential fight between Russell and Davis would probably have to take place at either 130 or 135 pounds, although many believe that Davis, who has struggled making weight in the past, will likely never go back down to 130. Russell, who has held the WBC 126-pound title since 2015, has fought as a featherweight for his entire career. It did not sound like he had any plans of moving up, however, unless there was a title on the line.
“I would love to jump up to 130, 135, the only problem is if these guys aren’t willing to fight me without a title,” said Russell. “If I jump up to 130 or 135 there’s no reason forcing these guys to fight me. The fans aren’t pushing for the best to fight the best. They’re still supporting fights that shouldn’t really be supported.”
Russell has not fought since last February, a unanimous decision over Tugstsogt Nyambayar.