Las Vegas, Nev. (February 26, 2022)
Ron Harris – There have been hard times for the fighting Russell family recently. The family is still mourning the death of the youngest child, the personal health issues of trainer, coach and father, Gary Russell Sr. and the recent lost of world champion Gary Russell, Jr who is recovering from a shoulder injury which contributed to losing his championship belt back in January.
The youngest fighting Russell brother, Antuanne, a 2016 Olympian, now 15-0 with 15 KO’s, fought for the first time in Las Vegas and won with a TKO late in the tenth and final round. Referee, Mike Ortega, decided to stop the fight with 29 seconds left amongst a cascade of boos from the crowd at The Chelsea Theater in the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino. There was no doubt in the outcome, but it is assumed that Ortega had seen enough and stopped the fight.
Russell totally agreed with the ref. “Definitely…. A lot of contact, head butts, I think the ref made the right decision.” Russell is known for his fast starts, and he was on the attack in the first round of this fight. Postol 38 and former world champion in the super lightweight division (140 lbs.), was the taller fighter, but he was not ready for the aggressive Russell who came out attacking the body and throwing overhand lefts from his southpaw stance. Postol, from the Ukraine, had to be thinking about his family who are still in Ukraine dealing with the turmoil in that country. He has a wife and twin kids and is said he will be on the first plane heading that way after the fight.
The fighting Russell’s showed strength by realizing that their profession is boxing, and they need to train and be ready despite the setbacks that have come their way in the past few months. Gary Sr made the trip to Vegas and was in the corner shouting advice to Antuanne and to Gary Jr. from his wheelchair. Former champion Gary, Jr works the corner of brothers Antuanne and Antonio, both undefeated professional fighters.
Antuanne, 25, was very realistic when asked about what his father is going through. “How would you feel if your foot was amputated, and you had sugar diabetes and were going through trials and tribulations and still had a family to look over and go through a lot of rough times just to make us successful. That’s a man’s job, that’s a miracle in the making that he is doing it and he is staying strong.”
Antuanne had deep feelings for what Postol was going through in his mind but had no illusions as to why he was fighting this man. “Does it make it difficult for me? Not at all. We are in the hurt business. But I do take my hat off to him because his family is back home with bombs going off. His country is at war literally. When we step into this square ring, it is our job as participants to block all of that out and have tunnel vision. This man is coming to hurt me, and I am coming to hurt him.”
Russell is in the conversation for championship consideration later this year and certainly next year. There is no fear of opponents for Antuanne. “I think my toughest opponent is myself. We train and we practice executing what we are told to do and honestly tonight it took me a little longer to execute, but I got it done.” Yes, he got it done tonight.
Photos courtesy Stephanie Trapp