By Huck Allen: In a big step-up fight, unbeaten light welterweight Gary Antuanne Russell will be facing former WBC 140-lb champion Viktor Postol on February 26th on the undercard of Roger Gutierrez vs. Chris Colbert on SHOWTIME at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in Las Vegas.
It’s a tough fight for Gary Antuanne, who has fought once a year for the last two years of his career. To go up against a seasoned pro like Viktor Postol isn’t going to be easy for the inactive younger brother of Gary Russell Jr.
Viktor Postol coming off a long layoff
The 38-year-old Postol (31-3, 12 KOs) will be coming off a year and a half layoff since his 12 round majority decision defeat against former WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Jose Ramirez in August 2020.
Given the amount of time Postol has been out of the ring, it’s questionable whether he’ll be in top form to face the unbeaten southpaw Russell next month.
However, the lanky 5’11” Postol is always in shape, so he might not be rusty after his layoff and the narrow defeat against Ramirez.
Both Dan Rafael and Mike Coppinger are reporting that the 25-year-old unbeaten Russell (14-0, 14 KOs), one of the brothers of former WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr, has agreed to face Postol on the Gutierrez vs. Colbert undercard on Showtime.
The 2016 US Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell has recent victories over these fighters: Jovanie Santiago, Jose Marrufo, Juan Huertas and Luis Castillo Leal.
Despite his amateur background, Russell hasn’t been moved quickly by his handlers since turning professional five years ago in 2017.
He took on Jovanie Santiago in his last fight and stopped him in six rounds last May. Russell has been inactive since, which is disappointing because he only fought once in 2021 and once in 2020.
Gary Antuanne needs to be more active
That low activity rate for Gary Antuanne Russell seems to run in the family, as his older brother Gary Russell Jr. has been fighting roughly once a year since 2015.
It finally caught up with him last Saturday night when he was beaten by the active fighter Mark Magsayo by a 12 round majority decision on Showtime in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
If Gary Antuanne Russell wants to make a mark in the 140-lb division, he’s going to need to fight more than once a year. It will not work well for him if he beats Postol and then disappears until 2023 before fighting again.
At that rate, Russell might not get a title shot at light welterweight until he’s 30 years old. That’s fine if that’s what Gary Antuanne wants for his career, but he’ll age out if he’s only fighting once a year like his brother Russell Jr.
If Gary Antuanne wins this fight against Postol, it would be great to see him face Subrial Matias in a title eliminator or Jose Zepeda.
Postol is a decent choice for Gary given his inactivity for the last two years of his career, but he needs to get more active after that and face a relevant contender like Matias or Zepeda.
Porter says Russell “admires his work”
“I think he admires his work from time to time and basically he throws punches and he stays there,” said Shawn Porter in critiquing Gary Antuanne Russell on his Porter Way Podcast.
“Nobody is swinging back, but I’m always looking at the future on what’s something that you’re going to have to improve on something that’s not there that you’re going to need to have,” said Porter on Gary Antuanne.
“He’s going to get to the point where he’s fighting guys, especially when you’re talking about Josh Taylor, a guy that is not only quick on the draw but also quick on the counter as well.
“I’m talking about a guy that can counter really well. So, I think that’s something that he [Gary Antuanne Russell] should be working on now, even though guys aren’t throwing punches at him.
“Still work on throwing your punches and also moving your head and stepping around. I also noticed that he doesn’t have bad feet, but he doesn’t have great feet. I’d like to see his feet get better.
“There were times where I saw him step around and make pivots, but I’d like to see you do that more automatically as opposed to just making an opening for offense,” said Porter on the changes he’d like to see in the footwork of Gary Antuanne.
“I’d like to see you throw your shots, and then step around and get off the line. I feel like he’s right there on the line to be hit after his combinations. But outside of that, and that’s nitpicking at this point because if anything, that’s something he’s going to improve.
“He’s the kind of kid, again, we talk about his amateur pedigree, we’re the kind of guys when you get hit a couple of times, ‘Damn, what did I get hit with?’ You make that adjustment really quickly, and you’re not going to get hit many more times with that same kind of punch or the same combinations.
“But if you can make the muscle memory now, that’s something that can work to his advantage. But outside of that, I have no complaints, and not to take a shot at AB [Adrien Broner], but he [Gary Antuanne] did what AB was supposed to do [against Jovanie Santiago].
“At this young age of 13 fights, he [Gary Antuanne] showed that he was on another level of this Santiago guy and that was what AB was supposed to do. I think he really did show the separation in terms of levels.
“I don’t think he’s at the world championship levels yet, he’s right around the corner and running up really quickly,” said Porter of Gary Antuanne Russell.