Add an injury issue to Gary Russell Jr.’s list of concerns entering his fight against Mark Magsayo.
The long-reigning WBC featherweight champion revealed during an appearance Wednesday on “The DAZN Boxing Show” that he is suffering from “a little slight injury” that he declined to disclose. Russell will end almost a two-year layoff on Saturday night and already has dealt with the foot amputation that has prevented his father, who is his longtime trainer, from properly helping him prepare for this fight.
Russell revealed last week that he essentially has trained himself for his mandated defense versus the Philippines’ Magsayo on Saturday night in Atlantic City, New Jersey. His injury revelation was somewhat surprising because boxers typically don’t divulge such information in the days leading up to a fight.
“I never go into any of my fights 100 percent, to be honest with you,” Russell said. “I do have a little slight injury, but I prefer not to elaborate on it until after the fight. We’re going to get through this fight, we’re still going to make things shake and then we’ll go ahead and put it out there after it’s all said and done.”
The odds favoring Russell dropped to 3-1 on Wednesday, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Russell, 33, will make just the sixth defense of the WBC belt he won by knocking out Mexico’s Jhonny Gonzalez in the fourth round of their March 2015 bout at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOs) earned his shot at Russell’s title by viciously knocking out Mexico’s Julio Ceja (32-5-1, 28 KOs) in the 10th round of their elimination match on the Manny Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugas undercard August 21 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The 26-year-old Magsayo overcame a fifth-round knockdown to knock Ceja unconscious with back-to-back right hands in a fight he was losing on all three scorecards (87-82, 86-83, 86-83).
The left-handed Russell (31-1, 18 KOs), a Washington, D.C., native, last fought in February 2020. The Capitol Heights, Maryland, native out-classed Mongolia’s Tugstsogt Nyambayar on his way to winning a 12-round unanimous decision that night at PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Showtime will broadcast Russell-Magsayo as the main event of a tripleheader from Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa.
That telecast, scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET, also will include a 12-round rematch between junior welterweights Subriel Matias (17-1, 17 KOs) and Petros Ananyan (16-2-2, 7 KOs). Armenia’s Ananyan upset Puerto Rico’s Matias by unanimous decision in their 10-rounder in February 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
In Showtime’s opener, Nyambayar (12-2, 9 KOs) will encounter Namibia’s Sakaria Lukas (25-1, 17 KOs) in a 10-round junior lightweight fight. Lukas officially replaced Vic Pasillas (16-1, 9 KOs) as Nyambayar’s opponent Wednesday because Pasillas tested positive for COVID-19.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.