BoxingFight Previews

The Silent Superstar: Will 2021 Be Gary Antuanne Russell’s Year

How To Watch: Saturday, May 29th, 7 PM PST


Network: Showtime

2016 U.S. Olympian super lightweight contender Gary Antuanne Russell (13-0, 13 KOs), on paper feels like Errol Spence 2.0, a southpaw with middleweight punch at welterweight, who can think as well as bully opponents and has a serious amateur background. In fact, Russell’s dominance during the past three-and-half years as a pro is telling in, he is undefeated in 13 pro fights with each bout ending by way of knockout and only going 26 rounds as a professional, which is both good, and bad. The Capital Heights, Maryland boxer has 7 first-round knockouts and has only been to the fourth round once as a professional despite being scheduled for eight-round bouts five times, and ten-round bouts twice.

“He’s slugger, if he want to come in there and slug with me, he will feel my power,” said Antuanne Russell. “Like I said, I am in the hurt business, I come to hurt.”

Russell is now coming off a little over a year lay-off, which is the longest period of inactivity in his professional career, which largely stems from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

For amateur boxing nerds, Russell is the man who beat Jaron “Boots” Ennis at the Olympic Trials to make it to the Olympics, and is slowly creeping up their with fellow world title contenders Virgil Ortiz, and “Boots” Ennis. Russell is being brought up under the radar, but once he hits the scene, he will not leave for a great while.

Russell is also a member of the fighting Russell family, which consists of current WBC featherweight world champion and 2008 Olympian Gary Russell Jr, as well as his other brother bantamweight Gary Antonio Russell.

Russell’s opponent, Jovanie Santiago, should be a familiar name to fans of Showtime Championship Boxing, as Adrien Broner defeated him in February of this year, even though Showtime’s unofficial scorer Steve Farhood did not. Santiago’s career is bizarre turning pro in 2007, winning two fights one by majority decision before getting a draw and leaving the sport for six years. Santiago returned to defeat undefeated Antonio Ortiz in 2014, as he began to fight again.

“He’s going to bring his pressure, punches in bunches and I believe that is all that he can bring,” said Russell when looking over at his opponent. “A diamond shines from all sides, you might meet a fighter that usually fight one way, but just decide to change his style, due to his opponent, but like I said before I am in the hurt business. If he wants to bring a different style, ‘fine, that’s cool,’ I am willing to take everything he is willing to bring my way, and that’s just that.”

2015 was the most active Santiago ever was fighting five times that year, as after a hard-fought win over DeMarcus Corley in 2017, Santiago took over a year to return to the ring. Santiago had a rather anonymous career to the majority of boxing fans before being hand-selected to fight Adrian Broner.

Santiago is currently 15-1-1, with his lone defeat being to Broner. In those sixteen professional bouts, Santiago has a 62% KO ratio across 74 rounds contested. Santiago will have nearly three times the amount of in-ring professional experience as Russell leading into this bout.

The Broner fight and along with his performance against Broner put him on the radar, and now Santiago is facing one of America’s best young fighters, who is looking to do what Broner couldn’t do – stop Santiago.

Russell faces Santiago in the opener of a three-fight card from the Dignity Health Sports Park, this Saturday, May 29th on Showtime, starting at 7 PM PST.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle