Gary Russell Jr. said he injured his left hand in the first round of his eight-round shutout of Eric Estrada on the Amir Khan-Zab Judah undercard Saturday in Las Vegas.
Russell Jr.’s dominating victory — he won by identical scores of 80-71 on all three of the judges' cards – obscured excruciating pain in his power hand.
"A diamond is supposed to shine on all sides, you know?” said Russell (17-0, 10 knockouts). “And that was one of the best things that I liked about my performance. I liked that I demonstrated that I could be very versatile. I feel that I showed my versatility by boxing him from the outside and then also by taking him on the inside. Some boxers can only fight one particular way.
“They know how to box, or they know how to brawl. I felt good about the performance, even though I always downplay my performances. I always find something that I could have done better. In that way, I'm my own worst critic. So I'm a little upset because I felt like I should have gotten him up and out of there. So overall, I give myself a 'B.'"
Gary Russell Sr., the fighter's father and trainer, said his son "hurt his hand in the first round."
"He came back to the corner between rounds and told me that,” the elder Russell said. “So after that, he couldn't really get off on his left hand like we wanted to. He showed me that he's a scrapper. So we changed our game plan from fighting outside to getting close, and we started to assault the body, and that worked for us."
Two fights ago, Russell suffered a hairline fracture in his right hand during his victory over Adolfo Landeros in April. Russell rebounded with a fourth-round knockout of Antonio Meza during on June 17.
"You know, I'm a warrior,” Russell said. “I'm a solder. You don't want your enemy to know exactly what's going on with you. I can disguise it, you know? I didn't want to let anybody know."
Russell said that people in crowd at the Mandalay Bay Hotel told him before and after the Khan-Judah fight – won by Khan — that he not only was the premiere performer on the card but that he could’ve defeated either of the main event fighters.
"They loved me,” he said. “After the fight was over, they were telling me, 'Man, you can probably get up into the ring and beat Zab and Amir.’ You could beat both of those guys. That was before their fight and a little bit after their fight. It was a mixture."
Russell is eager to face the likes of unbeaten titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa or the winner of the Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez rematch.
"I would be ready for all of those guys,” he said. “Honestly, I don't think that they would be prepared for what I would bring into the ring — superior speed and superior punching power.
“Just ring smarts in general. Being in there with that smart of a fighter who is versatile. I'm ready as long as my team is backing me and making it happen. Let's bring them all on."
His father agrees.
"I think that Gary would look good against a Gamboa, or I know he would look superb against the guy from Puerto Rico who lost his title [Lopez],” Russell Sr. said. “I think in fact that he would look superb against Lopez. But until then, we'll keep looking for some tough, durable opponents and guys who can take a punch.
"Eventually, maybe by next year, we'll be able to make a hard run toward the championship belt. We're waiting for the Manny Pacquiaos and the Floyd Mayweathers to sign for their $100 million fight. After that, we can step in and be the star of the show after that."
Photo by Tom Hogan / Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions