Showtime’s July 30th card in Brooklyn, headlined by Danny Garcia vs Jose Benavidez, will feature a televised opener between Gary Antuanne Russell and Rances Barthelemy. Today Russell spoke about his preparations for the bout and how he’ll look to carry on his momentum from a win over Viktor Postol to this fight, considering Barthelemy a similar style fighter.
“I’m up against a fighting style that I believe is similar to Viktor Postol’s,” Russell said. ”Postol is a little more defensive, but they’re both long and rangy opponents.
“It’s of course a plus that I was able to be the first person to stop Postol” Russell would continue. “But at our gym and with our family, we don’t magnify fights like these. We pay attention to our credentials, and don’t really worry about what our opponents bring. The way we train, we’re not going to run into styles that we’re not accustomed to.”
Above all, Russell rates the adaptability in his style to what makes him successful and a force to be reckoned with. But that’s not just bonus, says Russell, it’s a necessity in this brutal business.
“With this sport, you have to have diversity in your style,” Russell said. “Because you never really know what kind of opponent you’re going to be facing. They might change up their fighting style based on yours. We just strive for excellence and execution.
“In the Postol fight he tried to use his length to keep me at bay. But we executed our game plan. It wasn’t about overanalyzing our opponent, but we saw that we could exploit his flaws. He pulled back a lot and he didn’t want to fight on the inside. We tried to keep ourselves in comfortable positions.”
For this outing Russell will be looking to come into this fight extremely sharp, saying he’s been pushing himself in camp to be firing on all cylinders once the first bell rings.
“We train for perfection every day. We know that execution is what wins fights,” Russell said plainly. “If our opponent can’t make the necessary adjustments to keep us off them, then that’s on them. This sport is a battle of wits. My will versus your will and my intelligence versus yours.”
“My brothers have always been in my corner. We all now are so tunnel-visioned on what’s important. Our motto in the gym is that the ultimate revenge is success.”
In order to be successful Russell with have to handle his business inside of the ring. And if everything goes according how it’s been meticulously planned, Russell looks forward to continuing his ascension up the ranks.
“If we come out unscathed from July 30, we’ll start working on the next opponent and get another fighter with great credentials in there,” Russell added. “We’ll be looking at fighting for the titles. Our goal was to clean out the division. That’s the first goal, then we’ll start moving up to other weight classes eventually.”
Russell will be guided into battle by his brother, world champion Gary Russell Jr, who will officially take the helm following the recent death of their father, Gary Russell Sr. Russell Jr would offer his own perspective on the fight to come and the lessons learned from the family patriarch.
GARY RUSSELL JR., Gary Antuanne’s Brother and Trainer
“Our father was not just a magnificent father, but a teacher and a mento,” Russell Jr said. “ He molded not just men, but soldiers. He gave us the tools, the skills and the wit to properly maneuver through this jungle that we’re in.
“The biggest thing that our father taught us was versatility. That’s the biggest key with anything you do in life. I’m a great fighter because I’m versatile. A lot of these fighters are just really good at one thing. I don’t want to see someone who’s only good at fighting one style.”
Russell Jr would continue by recounting a long family tradition of working together, saying he’s been in his brother’s corner from the very beginning, as they’ve always moved as a tight-knit unit.
“I was always side-by-side working with my father when it came to working with my younger brothers,” Russell Jr would say. “Even before I was going to fight, if they were on my undercard, I would work their corners as well. I think my father was somewhat always preparing me for this.”
Russell Jr may be a great fighter in his own right, but he can’t do the fighting for his brother here, so will have to instead assume the role of assessing the opposition and taking a leadership role.
“Rances is a great opponent,” Russell Jr said. “Whoever wins this fight is getting a big leg up in their career. My brother is looking to take over the division. I don’t think there’s any fighter in the division who he couldn’t beat. He can run through these guys. All he has to do is listen, that’s it.
“Your corner is your last line of defense. As a fellow fighter, I understand that. My brother is still learning to adjust on the fly. He’s learning, but there’s still things left to tweak.”
Through it all there’s still a legacy that’s continuing on from the late Russell Sr down through his children, and Russell Jr wants to make sure the wisdom is passed along for time to come.
“My father touched so many people in the sport of boxing and played some role in where so many people have gotten in their career,” Russell said. “Whether it’s fighters or coaches, he was never shy about passing along jewels and information.”