"Yeah, it's been coming together, man. Everything is lining up perfectly. I got the right training team around me. I got the right, really, everything man. Everything is lining up exactly as planned as far as me establishing myself as a fighter, establishing myself just in general all around, and it's all playing out right....When I fight on these undercards and things like that, in my eyes, I'm already the main event anyway. The only person that I really care about winning and looking exciting while doing it is me. So in my eyes, I'm already the main event....At the end of the day, the result doesn't change based on the fact that the opponent has changed. The end result is the guy other than Gary Russell Jr. will walk out of the ring with an L," stated undefeated featherweight contender Gary Russell Jr., who talked about his upcoming return to the ring this Friday when he headlines the November 9 "Night of the Olympians" ShoBox card. Check it out!
PC: I know it's getting close, but it's become somewhat of a tradition for us to get one in before your fights. Thanks for the time. How do you feel man?
GR: Yeah man, it's been crazy with everything going on, but you know I had to make some time and hit you up. I feel alright, man. I'm good. I'm focused and ready to put it down and handle this business and put another notch under my belt.
PC: Now that you are 20 fights into your career, do you feel like a veteran and that everything is coming together for you?
GR: Yeah, it's been coming together, man. Everything is lining up perfectly. I got the right training team around me. I got the right, really, everything man. Everything is lining up exactly as planned as far as me establishing myself as a fighter, establishing myself just in general all around, and it's all playing out right.
PC: Being that you are headlining a card that will showcase a lot of our Olympians making their pro debuts, do you feel that's pressure on you, because we have grown accustomed to expecting certain things from you, but the other guys on the card, it's the great unknown. We don't know what to expect from them.
GR: It's never extra pressure, man. To be an athlete, pressure is something that doesn't really exist. When pressure does exist, then that's when you become limited as a performer. As a fighter in general, the better you get and the more fights you win, the brighter the lights are gonna get, more eyes are gonna be watching, and more people will have expectations for you. It comes with the territory. If all of those things will get to you, then your career will be short-lived by trying to live up to the expectation. My job is to continue to do me, which I have been doing, and to just keep moving forward and keep pushing it. When I fight on these undercards and things like that, in my eyes, I'm already the main event anyway. The only person that I really care about winning and looking exciting while doing it is me. So in my eyes, I'm already the main event.
PC: As young as you are you, the card, like I said, is full of guys making their pro debut. You guys are all under the Al Haymon banner, so do you expect any of those guys to come to you for advice before their fights, and if so, would that be strange being that you are still very young?
GR: It's very possible that they can come to me for advice or whatnot. As far as me being young, I don't think that plays a big factor because my experience level as an athlete takes over at that point. You can learn from anyone all day, every day. It's not a big deal if they come to me. I definitely have a lot of experience in the game. I am 20 fights in and I have already been through what they are about to go through as far as having their first fight, so it would make a lot of sense for them to come to me as far as advice goes. A lot of fighters, when they start their pro careers, they are not really sure about what's going on. They are not sure of how things are being run. They are in a grooming process and if I can make their grooming process any easier, man, I'm all for it. They don't know that you can have an entire training camp preparing for a certain fight or for a certain guy and then a week out from the fight, the guy decides he don't want to fight you. They don't know that stuff like this happens, even with major fighters. Stuff like this happens and you gotta have mental toughness. A lot of that kind of stuff plays a big part in your career and it's a lot of things you're gonna have to watch out for as they grow.
PC: How do you feel about the way your career is progressing?
GR: I feel like it's progressing like it's supposed to be. I don't feel any different as a fighter. I am the same fighter. I do feel as though I have matured more in the ring as a fighter, but the basic makeup is still the same. We are always adding on a little more to our repertoire and we always want to give you a little more than what you seen the last time, but my career is moving perfectly and it's going the way we want it to go.
PC: I remember speaking to you before your fight against Christopher Perez and you had him figured out to a tee what you felt he was gonna do, and it obviously played out in the ring. There has been some name changes for this fight. Have you been able to find footage of your new opponent?
GR: Actually, it's weird that you say that because we were supposed to fight the Russian guy, Gusev. I think he was #8 in the WBA or WBO, one of the two sanctioning bodies. Maybe a week out from the fight, we hear that he decided not to take the fight, even after he had signed the contract and everything. He said he had an injury, so that fight isn't going to go through with the Russian guy. But we based our entire training camp around this particular guy; the entire training camp. We studied his ways, we studied his flaws and his strengths; we critiqued him down to a tee. We actually flew in sparring partners that had a similar style to this guy, so when the change happened so suddenly, now we're still stuck with the same sparring partners that we had. We did all of this training for a certain guy and now it suddenly changes at the last minute. A lot of fighters would actually get down on themselves because they feel all of their work is in vain. That's not really the case with us. I'm in tremendous shape; I'm 100% prepared and ready to fight. The thing that I have in common with all of the Olympians is that we are all elite fighters and we compete at that elite level. You never know who you are gonna face from one night to the next at the amateur level. You may have to fight 5 nights in a row to win the entire tournament, so you might fight a guy from Russia one night, then a guy from Cuba, and then a guy from Belarus. The styles will change and it's up to the fighter to be able to make the necessary adjustments in the fight. I feel as though for this fight, my pedigree will definitely take over. We got a little bit of footage on the guy. We are not one-dimensional. We are very versatile in the ring, so we are able to do things in there and we got enough footage to know what we have to do to beat this guy. At the end of the day, the result doesn't change based on the fact that the opponent has changed. The end result is the guy other than Gary Russell Jr. will walk out of the ring with an L.
PC: I understand the more your career moves forward, the less fights you take, but you fought 6 times last year and this will only be your second this year. Were there just some bad breaks with injuries and pullouts or was this by design?
GR: I have never been one for complaining about anything. I believe that God allows things to happen for a reason. I believe in God and if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today, so I feel as though he allowed things to happen in my life for a reason. Unfortunately, we were supposed to have fought I think maybe 2 more times this year, but like you say, injury here, guy pull out there, and then another injury here. We never know, but I know that it could have been the break that I needed. It gave me more time with my family. I just had my second daughter. I have a 3-month-old daughter now and I'm just blessed. It gave me that family time that I needed and it gave me my Gary Russell time, so I'm 100% focused and ready to move forward. We are gonna have a big 2013!
PC: For the fans that have been under a rock and haven't seen your skill set, what can the fans in California expect as well as the Showtime subscribers to see from Gary Russell Jr. on the 9th?
GR: A lot of excitement. My job as a fighter a lot of fighters think I'm just going to go out here and fight, when in actuality, we are entertainers. My job is to entertain. I will definitely bring a lot of hand speed, a lot of punching power, and I will bring entertainment to the sport, so hopefully when they tune in, they like what they see.
PC: Best of luck to you Gary. I'm definitely glad we were able to get it in. Is there anything you want to say before I let you go man?
GR: Man, keep God first and everything else follows.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]