Vasiliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez is one of the fights Gary Russell Jr. is most interested in watching when the boxing business gets back to normal.
If Lopez beats Lomachenko, however, the long-reigning WBC featherweight champion won’t consider Lopez the best boxer in the sport, pound-for-pound.
“I don’t think Lomachenko should be pound-for-pound,” Russell told AB Boxing News during an interview posted to its YouTube channel Saturday. “If I don’t think Lomachenko should be pound-for-pound, it doesn’t matter if he beat Lomachenko or not. He shouldn’t be pound-for-pound, neither. Lomachenko shouldn’t be pound-for-pound. I don’t think he’s a pound-for-pound fighter.”
Russell doesn’t believe Lomachenko is better than him, either, even though Lomachenko defeated Russell in their 12-round, 126-pound title fight in June 2014. The 31-year-old Russell feels dehydration cost him in that fight for the then-vacant WBO featherweight title at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Russell hopes to fight Lomachenko again, this time at lightweight.
“Vasiliy Lomachenko, he know he got a gift,” Russell said. “He don’t have the hand speed that I have, you know, have the boxing ability, the ring generalship and IQ that I got. He got a little seasoning, but he, overall, he really can’t f--k with me. He got a gift. He fought a dehydrated version, the lowest [possible] version of Mr. Gary Russell Jr.
“You know, and it was a split-decision fight. And he got [the nod]. And it was a knockdown in the fight that wasn’t even called, you know, so I mean, that’s neither here or there. But I plan to move up to 135. He’s at 135. I definitely would like that fight again, you know, fully hydrated. You know what I’m saying?”
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) beat Russell (31-1, 18 KOs) by majority decision. Lomachenko won eight rounds on two scorecards (116-112, 116-112), while another judge scored their fight a draw (114-114).
Russell, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, has long attributed his performance against Lomachenko to his struggles making weight in the days leading up to that fight.
“I feel like I’m one of the best things out here,” Russell said. “I don’t think no one can compete against me. You know, I had one hiccup in my career because I was young. You know, I was young, and I wasn’t as smart as I am now. You know, if I was as smart as I am now when I fought Vasiliy Lomachenko, I wouldn’t have cut the weight. You know, I had to lose like 5½ pounds [as the weigh-in approached].
“I wouldn’t have cut that weight the way that I did in the sauna and all that other stuff. I wouldn’t have cut that weight. I woulda just let them fine me. I woulda beat that ass and I just wouldn’t have got the title, you know, like [Orlando] Salido did. You know, but I wasn’t educated enough, you know, at the time to be able to think to do that. But it is what it is.”
The Washington, D.C., native has held the WBC featherweight title for five years. Russell doesn’t think he has anything left to prove within the 126-pound division, which is why he has talked about moving up two weight classes, all the way to lightweight, to face Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney or Lomachenko.
“I am interested in seeing Teofimo and Lomachenko fight,” Russell said. “I’m definitely interested in seeing that fight. I don’t even care who wins. I want Lomachenko anyway. He can lose. It wouldn’t matter. I want Lomachenko. Man, look, I need to do it for myself. And I feel like it was a fluke. You gotta do it again to prove it to me. Prove it to me. Make me a believer, because I don’t believe that sh-t. Tell him come and get it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.