Gary Russell Jr. Back After Lengthy Sabbatical

This Saturday, WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. is back. From vacation for about two years. Russell’s opponent is Mandatory WBC’s Mark Magcio, an undefeated fighter from a back-and-forth affair against Julio Sega.

Could the somewhat green especially at championship level Magsayo give up what could be a huge surprise? Or will you test the judgment of the night in favor of my neighbor?

This card will be streamed on the Showtime/Showtime app and the shared feature will feature an interesting comeback match between Subriel Mathias and Petros Ananyan.

The last time Gary Russell Jr. entered the ring was all the way before the pandemic broke out in February 2020 and defeated a tough guy at Tugstsogt Nyambayar.

Later in the start of the Covid-19 summer of 2020 and since then, Gary has been a hotly discussed topic in the boxing channels on Twitter and YouTube.

Whether potential matches were realistic or not, Gary was calling out to everyone from Gervonta Davis to the 147-pounder Terence Crawford. The only fighter I’ve had real discussions with is Devin Haney.

The fighters and Bill Haney exchanged words on the ThaBoxingVoice podcast but like many of the “beef” on social media featuring boxers, nothing happens in the real world where fights are taking place.

Although at some point in his career, Russell was convinced to fight once a year until a big money battle came along, there was a clear change in his mentality.

Signing with Al Haymon no longer makes it more difficult to be a priority in the PBC field but it does allow him to get a free domain with other promoters if something big himself is offered.

Russell talked about moving to 130 or maybe even 135 in search of legacy and/or money.

If Gary gets Magsayo, there’s a chance he’ll be matched later in the year with Leo Santa Cruz. I have to admit writing the last sentence sounded crazy because that equates to fighting Gary more than once in 2022.

Beyond the longer-than-normal layoff that is usually negated by Gary staying in the gym year-round this time around, it’s a little different. There are two elements that highlight why the old Russell Jr. may not be the same we’re used to seeing once a year.

Gary Russell Jr., Mark Magcio, Petros Ananyan, Subriel Mathias Boxing photo/photo

First, his father needed serious surgery that would prevent him from training Gary, so he was essentially training himself in his words. The pressure on the family must have been very difficult, so my thoughts go to the entire Russell clan.

To make matters worse, Gary spoke of a “minor” injury that led to the fight. As we know, most fighters don’t come in 100% healthy, but the way Gary also said he would discuss injury after the fight adds another layer of doubt. The rust, the lack of a smooth camp and then the injury he felt was worth mentioning during the week of the fight don’t seem to be the keys to delivering a great performance.

Mark Magcio is 23-0 and has 16 KOs and at the age of 26 he is ready to enter the peak of his career. Magsayo’s two best opponents are his last Julio Ceja appearances versus Chris Avalos in 2016.

Magsayo has some speed and pop but has also shown that he is clever at times and that his defense is lacking. Time and time again we have seen boxers learn from a substandard bout and come back stronger.

The perfect example in recent months is George Camposos, so let’s not judge him too much on this last fight he’s fallen into. It should also be noted that Sega also landed Mark and was the more accurate of the two that night.

Given all the circumstances on the GRJ side of things, this is going to be a competitive fight. Maybe not the end result but in the first half it could be 3-3 or 4-2 Gary and during the rounds due to injury and/or rust by Gary we can get a lot of traffic in two directions.

My official prediction is Gary Russell Jr. by Unanimous Decision.

Side note: Don’t you dare miss the joint rematch between Subriel Matias and Petros Ananyan. Let’s see if Subriel can correct his mistake of almost two years ago, if so, he moves if not to the drawing board. A Petros win would greatly enhance his career.

Written by Chris Carlson Host/producer of The Rope A Dope Radio podcast Available at and follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

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