WBC Featherweight World Champion Jhonny Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KO’s) will defend his title against challenger Gary Russell Jr. (25-1, 14 KO’s) March 28th on Showtime Championship Boxing. This will be Gonzalez’s third defense of the championship he won in a knockout victory over Abner Mares and Russell Jr.’s second shot at a world title after his loss to Vasyl Lomachenko in June of last year.
Gonzalez held his media workout and press conference at the Main Event Sports Club in Glendale, California where he and his trainer Nacho Beristain answered questions on the upcoming showdown.
The champion spoke openly and honestly concerning his opponent on Saturday. Aware of Russell Jr.’s exceptional hand speed, Gonzalez says he’s well prepared for the challenge.
“I know that Gary Russell Jr. has fast and powerful hands. He is a quick and strong southpaw. I know he’s an excellent boxer.”
Gonzalez said of Russell Jr. In response to the quick hands and possibly superior technical skills that the challenger possess, the champion Gonzalez plans to show that experience and power are what win out at the top level.
“I am going to attack him with my power and speed. Once he feels my power in the ring, he’s not going to be able to think in there. He’s going to run, but if he decides to brawl with us, then we will have something for him.”
Gonzalez made it clear that while he respects the talented up and comer Russell Jr., he’s not ready to relinquish his title or the newfound respect that has come with it.
“Ever since beating Mares, I feel like I am finally getting the respect and support from the fans and media that I deserve. I get recognized all of the time now. The recognition motivates me to work harder than ever before and not let my fans down.”
This respect and recognition have driven Gonzalez to reach new heights and keep a hold on his title after he was previously written off as finished after losing to Daniel Ponce de Leon in 2012. A win over Russell Jr. would not only extend his reign as champion but would also set Gonzalez up for potentially bigger fights, possibly on Al Haymon’s PBC series.
For Russell Jr., another loss in a world championship fight might mean a long wait before another shot at the title comes for the former Olympian. After being outclassed by Lomachenko, he is looking to prove that he belongs in the top tier of professional boxing and that he can be a champion at that level.
Gonzalez’s trainer Nacho Beristain, however, feels that it will be his fighter that comes out on top on Saturday.
“Jhonny Gonzalez is a very strong fighter. I think the strength and power of his punch beats Russell’s. I think that will be one of the keys– Jhonny Gonzalez knows how to punch, hard.”
Whether it is Russell’s speed, skill, and determination to get to the top of the mountain or Gonzalez’s power, experience, and resolve to stay there will win out remains to be seen.