Unbeaten featherweight Gary Russell Jr, will return to the ring on the Victor Ortiz–Luis Collazo undercard Jan 30 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer announced on Wednesday.
Ortiz-Collazo is being televised on Fox Sports 1, and will take place three days before the NFL’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., less than an hour drive from Brooklyn..
Coming off a unanimous decision over Juan Ruiz in August, Russell (23-0, 13 knockouts) will face Miguel Tamayo (14-7-2, 12 KOs).
In October, Russell was declared the WBO’s mandatory challenger to Mexican titleholder Orlando Salido, giving Salido a period of 180 days from that time within which to defend against Russell after having won the vacant belt by seventh-round knockout over Orlando Cruz. Salido is scheduled for a defense against against Ukrainian amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko for March 1.
"Gary is the mandatory for the winner of the fight between Salido and Lomanchenko, and he has full intentions of going after the winner of that fight," said Schaefer, during a conference call. "So I'm happy to have Gary back to make sure that he stays sharp and to showcase his immense talents at the Barclays Center."
Schaefer said that an offer for Russell to challenge WBC beltholder Jhonny Gonzalez was turned down by Gonzalez, who won the belt by a shocking first-round knockout victory over three-division titlewinner Abner Mares in August.
"Gary Russell is continuing to chase the big fights. I know that some of the media members have attacked him for his quality of opponents and things like that, but I just want to set the record straight, here," said Schaefer.
"Gary was ready, willing and able to fight Jhonny Gonzalez, and he has called out Jhonny Gonzalez. We made a substantial offer to Jhonny Gonzalez's people for that fight, and Jhonny Gonzalez and his team turned it down."
TONY BELLEW, KEVIN MITCHELL, KELL BROOK TO RETURN ON MARCH 15
Former light heavyweight contender Tony Bellew will return as a cruiserweight on a March 15 card at Echo Arena in Liverpool, England, that will also include undefeated welterweight Kell Brook and lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced on Tuesday.
Bellew (20-2-1, 12 knockouts) was last in the ring for November's sixth-round stoppage loss to RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, and is being matched against Russian Valery Brudov (41-4, 28 KOs).
Brook (31-0, 21 KOs) is coming off of a fourth-round stoppage of ex-beltholder former titleholder Vyacheslav Senchenko in October that represented his third straight knockout win.
Mitchell (36-2, 26 KOs) has won three straight, including the last two by knockout, since falling by fourth-round stoppage to WBO beltholder Ricky Burns in September of 2012. Coming off December's ninth-round stoppage of Karim El Ouazghari, Mitchell, like Brook, will meet an opponent to be determined.
Also on the card are the Smith siblings, light weight Stephen (18-1, 11 KOs), and super middleweights Paul (34-3, 19 KOs) and Callum (9-0, 7 KOs). Stephen has a WBC eliminator bout against Argentina's Fernando David Saucedo (51-5-3, 7 KOs), and his brothers will be in against opponents to be determined.
The card will also boast a 168-pound Rocky Fielding (17-0, 10 KOs) in an all-Liverpool clash with Tony Dodson (29-8-1, 14 KOs).
THOMAS WILLIAMS FIGHTS CORNELIUS WHITE ON ESPN ON FRIDAY.
While the undefeated Williams could be on the verge of becoming "a major player in the light heavyweight division," the twice-beaten White views the fight as "a must-win for me."
A 26-year-old from Fort Washington, Md., Williams (15-0, 10 knockouts) is coming off of perhaps his biggest win, a unanimous decision over two-time title challenger Yusaf Mack of Philadelphia in November.
Mack had challenged and lost to IBF super middleweight beltholder Carl Froch by third-round knockout in November of 2012 and then- IBF 175-pound titleholder Tavoris Cloud by eighth-round stoppage in June of 2011.
Williams sees a victory over White as a means of establishing himself in a division that includes RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson as well as his IBF, WBA and WBO counterparts Bernard Hopkins , Beibut Shumenov and Sergey Kovalev.
"Cornelius is a very solid fighter but I plan on controlling the action and dictating the tempo right from the start. Fight my fight and I'll be victorious. I'm very excited to show what I can do on national television," said Williams.
"This is my first time on ESPN, and I'm very happy and grateful that my handlers were able to put me in this position. My goal is to be a major player in the light heavyweight division. There are titleholders at 175, but no young real stars from America, no one that truly stands out."
A 32-year-old from Houston, Tex., White (21-2, 16 KOs) is attempting to rebound from June's third-round knockout loss to Kovalev, who floored him three times in the last round of their IBF eliminator.
White had won five straight fights since his other loss, which was by first-round stoppage against Don George in Febraury of 2011.
"Williams is a good fighter, but I want the win more than he does. I watched one of his fights, he's a southpaw and throws a lot of punches, and is pretty much Taylor made for me. We both come forward, we can both hit," said White.
"It's going to come down to who can take the others punches better. I don't see it going the distance. It's going to be an action-packed fight. This a big fight and a big opportunity for me. It's a must-win for me. I have to beat a guy like this to get a world title shot."
DUSTY HERNANDEZ-HARRISON TO FACE TIM WITHERSPOON, JR. ON JAN. 31.
Welterweight prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (19-0, 11 KOs), of Washington, D.C., will face Philadelphia's Tim Witherspoon Jr. (10-3-1, 2 KOs) in an eight-round bout on ESPN2 on Jan. 31 from the Richard J. Cody Arena in West Orange, N.J.,
A 19-year-old who was last in the ring for November's first-round stoppage of Marlon Lewis, Hernandez-Harrison will be on a card whose main event features light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello (18-0-1, 6 KOs) against ex-beltholder Elvir Muriqi (40-5, 24KO’s), with a co-feature of junior featherweights featuring Luis Rosa (14-0, 6KO’s) against Jorge Diaz (17-2, 10 KOs).
Hernandez-Harrison will take place on the eve of the NFL’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
"With the Super Bowl taking place 15 miles from the venue, and everything involved with Super Bowl weekend, the fight night atmosphere should be amazing. I can't wait to perform in that kind of environment," said Hernandez-Harrison.
"I am working hard in the gym and focused on Jan. 31. I know lots of my fans are making the drive from Washington, DC., I am excited and want to also put on a great performance for all the fans that will be tuning into ESPN2 that evening."