Leo Santa Cruz vs. Gary Russell Jr: C’mon Al Make the Fight
By Listen: The Premier Boxing Championship series, the brain child of super promoter Al Haymon debut in 2015 with mixed results from the boxing community. Fans have accused the PBS of everything from questionable match making to gift wrapped championship opportunities. The PBC did however provide plenty unheralded bouts, such as James Degale V Andre Dirrell and Danny Garcia V Lamont Peterson that had some boxing fans on the edge of their seats.
The sophomore year of PBS, should begin and or be highlighted by a potential FOY candidate matching WBA Super Featherweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz (31-0-1 17KO’s) against WBC World Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr. (26-1 15KO’s).
Boxing has been long plagued by fights that are not made due to promotional and network bickering. Far too often fights are postponed due to promoters “marinating” fights. Imagine this happening in other sports. Imagine if the NFL “marinated” next week’s NFC and AFC championship games to build anticipation, loose comparison, but still no less true. We saw this business model of “marinating” fights, fail a couple years ago when Top Rank waited too long to make the highly anticipated Gamboa V Lopez fight. Lopez was KO’ed by Orlando Salido, before the matchup was made, which served a big blow to boxing. Very seldom do we find two champions of the same age, in the same weight class under the same promotional banner.
C’mon Al, make the fight. A clash between Cruz and Russell Jr. is a guaranteed fan friendly fight. You have the warrior in Cruz, constantly coming forward with the heart of a lion, against a speedy, southpaw highly skilled boxer in Russell Jr. Cruz’s high volume punching style coupled with average power will help to answer any questions that linger about Gary Russell Jr.’s heart and championship pedigree. Russell still rebuilding from his loss to the super talented Vasyl Lomachenko, would like nothing better , than to erase the memory of that loss, by displaying his impeccable boxing skills against a fighter tailor made for his style. If Cruz can continue to show wrinkles in his game, as he did in his last fight versus Mares, in which he boxed at times placing his shots and if Russell Jr. has truly made the adjustment from the Lomachenko fight, of choosing to bite down and stand in the pocket more, this is a guaranteed fight of the year. Quite honestly these are two of my favorite fighters in boxing and I’m torn in making a prediction. I favor Santa Cruz one day and Russell Jr. the next. I can visualize Cruz overwhelming Russell battering him in submission but I can also see Russell Jr., using his lateral quickness and movement timing Cruz with perfect counter shots.
If the PBC truly wants to separate itself from the normal boxing protocol, this fight should be made immediately. Boxing fans deserve to see two young champions facing each other in their prime in a pickem fight. I can see this fight being highly competitive and possible leading to a trilogy of fan friendly fights. On behalf of boxing fans every, C’mon Al, make the fight.