Lem Satterfield

Russell-Gusev slated for March 2


Undefeated featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. will pursue his fourth straight knockout since his unanimous decision victory over hard-punching fellow left-hander Leonilo Miranda in 2011 when he meets Russian standout Vyacheslav Gusev on the Showtime-televised March 2 undercard Daniel Ponce de Leon WBC featherweight title derfense against Puerto Rican prospect Jayson Velez the Apollo Theater in New York City.

A 24-year-old resident of Captiol Heights, Md., Russell Jr. (21-0, 13 knockouts) has claimed that his issues with brittle hands are behind him.

In Gusev (20-2, 5 KOs), whom Golden Boy CEO Eric Gomez confirmed as an opponent, Russell faced a fighter who never has been stopped and who is riding a four-bout winning streak that includes two knockout wins since dropping a unanimous decision to two-time title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos in June of 2009.

When Russell was faced with Miranda, he was up against an opponent who came in with a mark of 32-3 with 30 knockouts, having won his first 30 bouts. Russell followed up the win over Miranda with a first-round knockout of Mexican Heriberto Ruiz in November of 2011, thanks to a perfectly executed, crunching right hook to the jaw.

Russell similarly scored consecutive third-round stoppages over Christopher Perez and Roberto Castaneda in June and November of last year, setting him up for a 2013 he claims “will be my year.”

To that end, Russell has an eye toward eventually facing the De Leon (44-4, 35 KOs), who should have a tough fight against Velez (20-0, 15 KOs).

In addition to De Leon, Russell desires a showdown with former WBO titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez (32-2, 29 KOs), who returned to the ring with a ninth-round knockout of Brazilian junior lightweight opponent Aldimar Silva Santos at Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez, on Feb. 2 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, the site of Lopez’s first of two knockout losses to Orlando Salido.

Lopez was back in action for the first time since March 10 of last year, when he was stopped in the 10th round by Salido in San Juan, in a repeat of Salido’s eighth-round knockout victory in April of 2011.

The De Leon-Velez undercard will also feature unbeaten lightweight contender Sharif “The Lion” Bogere (23-0, 15 KOs) and Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs) in a clash for the WBA’s vacant belt.

Bogere suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon that forced him out of November’s scheduled bout against Abril.



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

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