Russell Jr. Talks Escandon, Lomachenko
This weekend featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. makes another defense of his WBC title, taking on the dangerous Oscar Escandon at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The 28-year-old champion is prepared for a tough fight, but says he already has plans for the next steps of his career.
Russell may be in the prime of his boxing career with many years left at the top of the game, but he does not want to be like the boxers of the past that have stuck around too long.
“I plan on finishing this career within the next three years or so,” he told BoxingScene. “That’s about it. Thirty-one, maybe, tops. I’ll be 29 next month. We definitely want to start picking up the action so we can be able to sit back and live off the fruits of my labor.
“We’ve been very, very strategic with business outside of boxing. Boxing is what I do, it’s not who I am as an individual,” Russell said. “We just use boxing as a vehicle to get us close to what we want. We’ve made very, very wise business decisions outside of boxing. We’re good.”
If Russell is able to get past Escandon, he wants to look for unification bouts at 126 lbs. After that, the featherweight champion wants to avenge the only loss on his record.
“I would love to unify against the other world champions (at featherweight),” he said, “and before the end of my career I would definitely like to compete against Mr. Lomachenko twice.”
Ukrainian sensation Vasyl Lomachenko gave what was perhaps his breakout performance as a professional against Russel in 2014, beating him by unanimous decision to win the WBO title. Since then, Lomachenko has ascended to the top of the game, being considered one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world by fans and analysts.
For Russell, Lomachenko’s success leaves a bad taste in his mouth only because it was his name that Lomachenko built his on as a pro.
“That’s definitely the one that I want to get done,” he said. “The only reason why Lomachenko is even mentioned – and I feel as though he’s put somewhat on a pedestal in his professional career as of now – was based upon the fact that he competed against Mr. Gary Russell Jr."
First, Russell will have a tough challenger in the form of Escandon on Saturday night. But if he can get past the Columbian featherweight, Russell clearly has his next few steps already mapped out.