Featherweight world champ Gary Russell Jr. has been blasted for his inactivity. The talented fighter has averaged just one fight per year since 2015 and it has cost him traction when it comes to his ability to become the star his abilities indicate he could be. Now, apparently, he’s looking to make up for lost time in one fell swoop.
Russell has been all over his social media accounts, issuing challenger after challenge to welterweight champ Terence Crawford. Apparently there’s been bad blood between the two since an incident back when they were amateurs. Russell was said to have punched Crawford in the mouth during an outside-the-ring altercation.
Now, Russell says that the bad blood challenges have turned into formal requests.
“It’s official that we made an offer to and it’s been sent to Terence “Bud” Crawford…Terence, let’s go ahead and settle this sh** once and for all. Let’s show the fans what really would’ve happened if you had attempted to fight back when I punched you in the mouth…Let’s do this sh** in front of everybody and show them what really would’ve happened, man…This sh** is real, man…Once again, all we’re waiting for is a response…So, if the fight don’t happen, I want the fans and everybody out here…to understand that it didn’t happen because Terence Crawford didn’t want to make the fight. Point blank period…The Ball’s in your court now….Terence come and see me, sucker a**.”
Obviously, the first problem people see in this bout is the size disparity. Crawford is a 147 lb. welterweight champ and Russell competes at the 126 lb. featherweight limit.
Russell, however, says that he walks around at 139 or 140. Welterweight would be just one good meal away.
Crawford, meanwhile, has not really commented on the challenge. But he has blown off the “punch in the mouth” incident from back when he was still a teenager. He’s referred to it as a sucker punch and laughed off the fact that Russell couldn’t put him down with a blindsided attack. He’s also insisted that Russell used his influence after that beef to try and hurt Crawford’s young career.
While Crawford-Russell may have some legitimate bad blood in it, it’s doubtful that Crawford or his promoter, Bob Arum, would make this fight. For one thing, it’s a serious no-win proposition for Crawford, who will get bashed for beating up a featherweight, even if he wins decisively.
More and more, it looks like UK native and former world champ Kell Brook may be Crawford’s next foe. It’s a decent fight that is, logistically, easier to make than any other big or “biggish” fight currently out there.
All in all, for Russell, trying to wrangle a Crawford fight was a good gambit for him. The bout represents a big payday, big exposure, and it provides him a convenient back door and excuse when/if he loses to the bigger man. Whereas Crawford would be facing a no-win, Russell would be enjoying a no-lose.
Russell would be better advised, though, to pursue bouts closer to his own size against the stars of the 126-135 lb. weight range. There are plenty out there, although Russell claims they’re ducking him. Still, he could at least stay active against lesser competition, if not entirely challenged.
Whatever the case, Crawford-Russell isn’t happening and maybe it’s for the best that it doesn’t.