by David P. Greisman
Featherweight titleholder Gary Russell Jr. has matches he wants in the near future in his division, but he’s also willing to travel beyond 126 pounds to face the only man to beat him in the pros.
“Before my career is over with, I don’t care if this guy loses his next 15, 20 fights — [Vasyl] Lomachenko has to see me. He has to see me,” Russell told reporters earlier this month ahead of his bout this Saturday against Patrick Hyland in Connecticut on Showtime.
“They say Lomachenko might move up in weight sometime. I’m willing to chase him wherever he goes to see him,” he said. “It means something to me to avenge any loss, not just Lomachenko. I had over 100-plus amateur fights. I had 10 losses. I still remember every one that I lost to. I had an opportunity to compete against guys and beat them and avenge that. It has nothing to do with Lomachenko.”
Lomachenko topped Russell by majority decision in June 2014 to win the vacant WBO title. Russell went on to win another belt, capturing the WBC with a demolition of Jhonny Gonzalez last year.
Top Rank, which promotes Lomachenko, had tried to make a match at 130 pounds with Nicholas Walters, only to be unable to get Walters to agree to terms. It is now working on having Lomachenko challenge 130-pound titleholder Roman Martinez in June instead.
Russell, 27, is 26-1 with 15 KOs. The Hyland bout will be his first in slightly more than a year; an injury in late 2015 scuttled a bout with Oscar Escandon.
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]