By Allan Fox: Several days after a deep disturbing video was posted involving WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. speaking to WBA champ Leo Santa Cruz’s dad in effort to setup a fight, Russell Jr. has commented that he meant no ill will towards Leo’s dad.
Russell Jr. (30-1, 18 KOs) says he has respect for his dad, and he just wants to make a unification fight between him and Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KOs).
The reaction from boxing fans on social media to the video has been overwhelmingly negative towards Russell Jr., as they didn’t like some of the comments he made.
Russell Jr. speaks on video with Santa Cruz’s dad
“Well you got a lot of ignorant people out here that doesn’t really know what’s going on,” said Russell Jr. to Fighthub. “I would have loved to see Leo, you know, for some weird reason, I told Leo, I can’t get within 10 feet of Leo. It’s just so funny and ironic that I can see his dad. So ‘Leo, I can touch your dad, I can put my hands around him, I can put my arm around him.
Why is it that I can’t do the same with you?’ Get in the ring. You have a lot of ignorant people out here that looked at that video and felt like I was trying to do something harmful Leo’s dad — that’s completely bogus. You know, I have a ton of respect for him,” said Russell Jr.
It’s clear that Russell Jr. was just trying to motivate Leo Santa Cruz to agree to fight him. The problem is the way the 31-year-old Russell went about it gave many boxing fans the impression that he was threatening Leo’s dad.
Russell’s comments about Leo’s dad
“You already know how bad I’ve been on Leo Santa Cruz’s a– right? The managers, the promoters, they just won’t let me get within arm’s reach of this mother-f—-. for some reason. I don’t know why, but I can tell you one thing. Check who I ran into. I can get his mother-f—- father though. I damn sure ran into his father. He had the nerve to walk into here like everything is sweet. Let me show you something. Here we go. [at this point Russell Jr. is standing next to Leo Santa Cruz’s father and has his arm around him while he’s still holding his camera].
“Stop ducking me. Stop ducking me. See me. I want you. [Leo’s dad then pulls away from Russell Jr. and walks off]. I’m within arm’s reach. I can touch him. I can put my hands on him, Leo. I can put my hands on him…Stop acting like a sucker and see me before I got get your father. I already put my hands on him. I could have put him in a [unintelligible] if I wanted to.”
Russell to fight in December
Russell using Leo’s dad to try and get a fight with him is obviously the wrong move. If Russell wants the fight with Santa Cruz, he needs to talk with his promoter and/or manager to set the fight up.
Russell Jr. says he plans on fighting in December in defense of his WBC title. He wants to wait until the end of 2020 to see if he can get a unification fight against Santa Cruz. If he can’t, then he’ll move up to super featherweight and after the top guys in that division. At this point, it doesn’t look like it’s worthwhile for Russell Jr. to expend energy and time in attempting to get Santa Cruz to fight.
“I’m supposed to be competing in December, I’m not sure who my opponent is yet,” said Russell Jr. “I wish it was a Leo Santa Cruz or Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, you know, one of these guys, but I gotta do what I gotta do at the end of the day.”
Looking at it from a logical perspective, if Santa Cruz wanted to fight Russell, he would have done so already. Russell has wanted the fight with Santa Cruz for years, and it hasn’t happened. That should be a big enough hint to let Russell Jr. know that he’s not going to get a fight with Santa Cruz.
Russell Jr. needs a new strategy for Santa Cruz fight
For Russell Jr. to get the fight that he wants against Santa Cruz, he’s got to try something different to get the match made. Here are some options:
- Work with his promoter
- Vacate title and get ranked by WBA
- Call Santa Cruz and ask him to make contest
- Make it worthwhile for Santa Cruz to fight. Russell can do that by increasing his popularity by taking on the dangerous fighters at 126, 130 and 135. This method might be Russell’s best for him to ultimately get Santa Cruz to fight him. If Russell float between weight classes, and take on the bigger names, his popularity will increase. Santa Cruz might then want to face him
Russell Jr. is getting up there in age at 31. If he’s going to get the fights that he wants, he’s going to need to make a move on them now. He says that no one wants to fight him at 126. If that’s the reality, then Russell Jr. should move up to 130 and/or 135, and go after the following fighters: Vasiliy Lomachenko, Gervonta Davis, Tevin Farmer, Devin Haney, Teofimo Lopez and Miguel Berchelt.