Olympian Russell Makes Successful Pro Debut

Gary €Digital€ Williams | 1/20/2009, 8:40 a.m.

Capitol Heights, MD resident and 2008 Olympic boxer Gary Russell, Jr. made a successful pro boxing debut with a third-round technical knockout over Antonio Reyes of Dallas, TX on January 16 in Tulsa, OK.

The debut was showcased in front of a nationally televised audience on Showtime€s ShoBox telecast. Russell, now fighting as a featherweight (126 pounds), did not disappoint as he dropped Reyes in the second round with a right hand before stopping his opponent 21 seconds into the third. Russell broke Reyes€s jaw during the bout.

The bout was the first boxing action Russell has had since failing to make weight during the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China last August. Russell did weigh in at one pound over the featherweight limit and there were unconfirmed reports that Russell lost some of his purse money because he was overweight.
While the performance impressed most observers, Russell himself said he was not particularly pleased with his efforts.

€I give myself a C+ for my performance tonight,€ Russell said in a Showtime press release. €But I am excited that I got this opportunity to have my pro debut on Showtime. I want to come back as quickly as possible and show everyone my A skills.€

There is a possibility that Russell will indeed return to action as quickly as Sat., Feb. 7. Russell is slated to appear on the undercard of the world super flyweight title unification bout between Vic Darchiniyan and Jorge Arce at the Pond in Anaheim, Ca. The main event will be televised by Showtime, but no word on whether Russell€s bout will be televised.

Russell is part of a potentially powerful rookie class of boxers slated to make pro debuts during 2009. A number of the rookie boxers have impressive amateur pedigrees.

Largo, MD middleweight Dominic Wade is scheduled to make his debut on Fri. Feb. 6 at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, MD. Wade was an outstanding amateur in the middleweight ranks. Another long-time successful amateur €" Larry Recio of Lanham, MD €" is also scheduled to make his pro debut sometime this year. Another talented middleweight -- Emmanuel Taylor of Baltimore €" is scheduled to make his pro debut on January 23 at Martin€s West in Woodlawn, MD.

Those boxers will join 18-year-old Haymarket, VA welterweight Juan €The Savior€ Rodriguez, who is off to an explosive rookie campaign with two knockout wins in his first two pro bouts.