Exclusive: Russell Jr. backs Frampton to repeat Santa Cruz win, rules out future UK fight

Esther Lin

WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. has ruled out travelling to the UK at any point in the future for a unification with either Carl Frampton or Lee Selby.

The 28 year-old is currently awaiting a date for his mandatory clash with Oscar Escandon and says the main focus remains on retaining his title before eventually eyeing a two-belt battle in the future.

“I’ll probably be back between December and February of 2017 against Oscar Escandon who is my mandatory,” Russell exclusively told World Boxing News. “I hope to be busier next year and will be looking to unify the titles.”

Asked whether fighting just twice in two years was frustrating for him, Russell added: “It’s not frustrating. Patience isn’t the ability to wait, it’s what you do while you are waiting.”

A rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz was recently announced for January 28 whilst the only man to defeat Russell, Vasyl Lomachenko defends his title against Nicholas Walters.

Those two fights have tied up the belts, and with Russell unwilling to consider a UK clash with Frampton or Selby, Escandon is seemingly the only option left open to the American.

Nudged for an opinion on the Frampton v Santa Cruz return and a possible all UK clash between Frampton and Selby, Russell’s annoyance at not being involved in high-profile match-ups was apparent.

“Carl Frampton will probably beat Leo Santa Cruz again but Frampton and Selby could beat each other or lose for all I care. I wouldn’t consider going over to the UK for Selby and at the moment, a rematch with Lomachenko is not my number one priority – Oscar Escandon is.”