Dan Rafael: Vyacheslav Gusev

Russell, Magdaleno set to return

July, 22, 2013
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Featherweight Gary Russell Jr., the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, will be back Aug. 9, according to Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer.

Russell will face an opponent to be announced, which is par for the course when it comes to announcing Russell fights. He was supposed to box on the July 13 Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat undercard -- against an opponent to be announced -- but that card was canceled due to Murat's visa problem. So Russell (22-0, 13 KOs) has been moved to the card headlined by heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder facing former titlist Sergei Liakhovich at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif.

Golden Boy had hoped to line up Russell against former featherweight titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon this summer. Ponce De Leon accepted the fight, but Russell turned it down.

Russell, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, has been beset by injuries and has been incredibly picky about whom he will fight. He will be boxing for the first time since suffering a fractured left hand in a 10-round decision win against Russia's Vyacheslav Gusev on March 2. Russell also missed significant time in 2012 because of an ankle injury.

• Former junior lightweight title challenger Diego Magdaleno (23-1, 9 KOs), who lost a split decision challenging Rocky Martinez on April 6 in Macau, will make his return Sept. 7, according to manager Frank Espinoza. Magdaleno's bout will be scheduled for eight rounds -- no opponent yet -- and will take place on the undercard of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Brian Vera fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Mended Russell cleared to train

May, 24, 2013
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Gary Russell JrTom Casino/ShowtimeGary Russell Jr.'s left hand injury is healed, clearing the way for him to return on July 13.

Featherweight Gary Russell Jr., the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, has been cleared to resume training after fracturing his left hand in a March 2 victory.

The 24-year-old Russell (22-0, 13 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Md., scored a 10-round shutout win against Russia's Vyacheslav Gusev -- 100-89 on all three scorecards -- that included his knocking down Gusev in the third round. But Russell also injured his left hand (and he's a southpaw) around the fourth or fifth round of the fight.

Russell said he has been training despite the injury, but without any contact using his left hand.

"I'm always in the gym with my dad and my brothers, and the hand injury didn't change that," Russell said. "I focused a lot of my training on strength and conditioning work over the past two months, but I was definitely ready to start punching again and we are back 100 percent now."

Russell, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, has fragile hands, so he and his father and trainer, Gary Russell Sr., have developed techniques to help protect them during daily training sessions, including using larger gloves.

Russell is scheduled for his next fight on July 13 (Showtime) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on the undercard of light heavyweight titlist Bernard Hopkins' mandatory defense against Germany's Karo Murat.

Russell doesn't have an opponent yet, but Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that he is trying to get former featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs) to accept the fight.

Gonzalez's promoter, Oswaldo Kuchle of Promociones del Pueblo, is supposed to meet with Golden Boy officials at their offices in Los Angeles in early June to further discuss the fight.

While Russell gets ready for his bout, he also accompanied his father and younger brother Gary Antonio Russell to the recently concluded 2013 National Golden Gloves tournament.

Gary Jr., a 2005 Golden Gloves champion, joined his father working in Gary Antonio's corner. Gary Antonio won the tournament's bantamweight title and the Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament award. Gary Antonio is the third Russell brother to win a National Golden Gloves title, along with Gary Jr., and Gary Allan Russell III, who won it in 2010. They are the third trio of brothers and the first since 1977 to win the event.

Abril-Bogere: No interim about it

March, 1, 2013
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Richard Abril got a bit of a surprise recently as he was preparing for his fight with Sharif Bogere, which comes off on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Abril, who has held an interim lightweight title since outpointing former titleholder Miguel Acosta in October 2011, found out that he had been elevated to the WBA's full 135-pound titlist even though he hasn't fought since last April, when he lost a split decision -- one of the biggest robberies in recent years -- to Brandon Rios.

Abril was supposed to fight Rios for the vacant belt. Rios came in overweight and wasn't eligible to win the belt, so when he got the gift decision, the title remained vacant.

However, the decision was so controversial that the WBA allowed Abril to keep the interim belt and he was scheduled to fight Bogere for the vacant title before the fight was postponed. They were supposed to fight Nov. 24, but Bogere injured his Achilles tendon, causing the delay.

So, officially, the fight on Saturday night (Showtime 10 ET/PT) will be Abril's first title defense.

"I had no idea it was happening and it was definitely a surprise," Abril said of receiving the title. "But it was a great surprise. Every fighter has aspirations of becoming a world champion. Anybody who watched absolutely knows I beat Brandon Rios and that I deserved the decision. Ever since then, in my heart, I always considered myself the WBA champion. The WBA only made it official.

"This motivates me even more to put on a good fight for the fans and show them that I'm the real deal."

Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs), 30, a native of Cuba living in Miami, lost by split decision in all three of his defeats -- to Rios, Hanky Lundy in 2008 and Breidis Prescott in 2008. He's a crafty boxer who doesn't make the best fights, and maybe sometimes judges don't give him credit for his defense and slick moves.

Bogere (23-0, 15 KOs), 24, who is from Uganda but lives in Las Vegas, is the opposite. He's an all-action guy. His best win came in May 2011 when he outpointed Raymundo Beltran.

He said he was happy for Abril getting the full title, which, of course, he expects to take home Saturday night.

"I don't think anybody is satisfied fighting for an interim title. We want a full title, a world title," Bogere said. "I've been waiting my whole life for this chance. Uganda is one of the poorest countries on the planet. Most people don't know how hard it's been to get from where I started to where I'm at now. Fighting for the WBA title is an opportunity of a lifetime."

Bogere, who wears a lion's head during his, let's say, interesting ring walk, wants to be known for more than that. He wants the belt.

"People talk about my ring entrance, and that's really good. It's gotten me a lot of attention," he said. "They may not know my name, but they've maybe heard of the kid and his lion. I'm confident that after Saturday, people will know my name and know who I am."

In the co-feature, 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year Gary Russell Jr. (23-0, 15 KOs) of Capitol Heights, Md., faces Russia's Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2, 5 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round featherweight fight.

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