Lem Satterfield

Russell Jr. grades himself a C-minus against Miranda

In an exclusive Q&A with RingTV.com, unbeaten southpaw featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. revealed that he had to overcome a tweaked left shoulder as well as severe nasal congestion during Saturday night’s one-sided, eight-round unanimous decision over hard-punching Leonilo Miranda in his HBO debut in Biloxi, Miss.

The 23-year-old Russell Jr. pitched a virtual shutout on the way to rising to 18-0 with 10 knockouts against the 28-year-old Miranda (32-4, 30 KOs) of Sonora, Mexico.

Russell’s victory was on the under card of a main event featuring Andre Berto (28-1, 22 KOs) dethroning Jan Zaveck (31-2, 18 KOs) by fifth round knockout for the IBF welteweight belt.

The speedy and technically-sound Russell of Capitol Heights, Md., won by scores of 80-72, 80-72, 79-72, was simply too fast, skilled and technically sound for Miranda (32-4, 30 KOs).

The bouts were being contested at the Bea Rivage Resort and Casino against the backdrop a heavy downpour and local street flooding — effects caused by consecutive tropical storms Hurricane Irene, and, Hurricane Lee.

Biloxi was also heavily effected by Hurricane Katrina six year ago.

RingTV.com: How was the experience of fighting in the wake of a tropical storm?

Gary Russell Jr.: It’s good to be back home in Maryland with the family. I was most definitely concerned, that’s why it’s great to be back home. Hurricane Lee was out there and he was wreaking havoc on everything.

We were right by the water, which made it even worse. But everything is good, man. We worked it out and we got the “W,” and I still got home to see the family, so everything is good.

RingTV.com: What is your opinion of your overall performance?

GR: If I had to grade myself, I would give myself a C-minus. I could have performed a whole lot better. I think that a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was under the weather. I had an illness.

We got down there the Wednesday before the fight, and so that Thursday, it hit me really heavy. I felt like I had a real bad sinus infection or something. Everything is just real stuffy and I can’t breathe.

There was a lot of little factors, man, but I was definitely under the weather. That definitely played a part. But I’m a warrior, you know? You have to go out there and you have to get the job done, regardless of what the situation is.

RingTV.com: I understand that you may have suffered a shoulder injury?

GR: Yes, it was my left shoulder. It was just a little injury that happened to me in the gym, that’s all. I hurt it and we were supposed to get some work done to it. Some therapy. But we never really got around to it.

RingTV.com: What are your thoughts on Miranda as an opponent?

GR: We were 100 percent prepared for the guy. The guy was strong and I knew that. His record speaks for itself. He’s a tough, durable guy with 30 knockouts. He was definitely a big puncher.

That played a part. We were aware of it and we were cautious. As far as my performance, though, I’m grateful and I’m pleased.

God allowed me to perform on that big of a stage and to come home with the “W” against that type of an opponent of that caliber, so I’m definitely pleased about that.

A lot of the fans don’t know how much better I could be. I do. I think that my performance was a little downplayed because of my condition with my illness. I can do 10 times better.

It’s going to be a wonderful experience when I’m at 100 percent, which I expect to be for my next performance.

RingTV.com: Did you ever feel Miranda’s power?

GR: Yeah. I definitely felt it. He’s strong. He can punch. He was getting a lot of guys out of there with his left hand. We critiqued him in the gym.

We saw some of the things that he’s been doing and some of the ways that we could counter him and that’s what we did.

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lem.satterfield@gmail.com

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