The featherweight titleholder says he can fight where he pleases, though he says he has a good relationship with PBC.
In an interview with Boxing Talk, Gary Russell Jr discusses his options for a next fight — which hopefully will come in 2019 instead of 2020 — and most notably, says that he’s a free agent and can fight wherever the deal might be right:
“I’m not with PBC. We have a great business relationship and we’re working with PBC, but I’m not locked in to any manager, promoter, or any specific network. I’m 100% a free agent.”
Russell (30-1, 18 KO) defended his WBC featherweight title on Saturday with a win over Kiko Martinez, and immediately called out WBA titleholder Leo Santa Cruz, who is very much a PBC fighter with Al Haymon.
The back of Russell’s custom-made t-shirt that he donned after the fight read, “LEO NEXT. WHAT’S UP AL?” referring to Santa Cruz and Haymon.
Russell, 30, has recently expressed frustration with not being able to get Santa Cruz in particular for a unification fight, and it’s been pretty unlike Gary Russell Jr, honestly, as he’s spent the last few years fighting once a year, defending his belt, and staying pretty quiet otherwise. But he seems tired of being blamed for big fights not happening in his career, and he’s speaking up.
Russell also said on Saturday that if he can’t get Santa Cruz, then he would gladly move up to 130 and challenge Miguel Berchelt, a Top Rank fighter, for the WBC title at that weight. Since he has the WBC belt at 126, he can do that if he chooses.
Does it mean anything? Time will tell. But again, at least he’s saying it, putting it out there for everyone to see and hear. That’s really all that we can ask right now. He’s publicly pushing for big fights, and if he can’t secure Santa Cruz, let’s see if he does indeed make the move to try to fight Berchelt.