Hurt Gary Russell Jr. drops fight

Updated: April 11, 2012, 1:27 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Featherweight Gary Russell Jr., the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, will have to wait even longer for his 2012 debut after suffering a sprained left ankle.

Russell suffered the injury in training and is off the April 21 Showtime tripleheader he was scheduled to open in El Paso, Texas, Golden Boy Promoter Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Tuesday night.

"It was a misstep in the ring when he was training," Schaefer said. "Nothing is broken. It's a sprain, but he can't train and he can't fight. It's nothing that serious but nevertheless the doctor said he shouldn't put any weight on it for the next two to three weeks and that he needs to let it rest. The good news is nothing is broken."

Schaefer said Russell hurt the ankle over the weekend and that Russell tried "to walk it off."

"He really wanted to fight," Schaefer said. "It was a Showtime card, good exposure. He tried to find a way to get it better but obviously that was not the case."

Russell, 23, originally was supposed to begin his 2012 campaign on Feb. 11 on the undercard of the Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto rematch. However, when that fight was postponed until June 23 because Berto suffered a biceps injury, Russell was shifted to the April 21 card.

Russell (19-0, 11 KOs) had been scheduled to face Dat Nguyen (17-2, 6 KOs) but Nguyen dropped out of the bout recently because of what Golden Boy Promotions termed "managerial issues." Golden Boy had been looking for a new opponent for Russell to face.

A 2008 U.S. Olympian who fought six times in 2011, Russell has not fought since Nov. 26, when he scored a spectacular one-punch knockout of veteran Heriberto Ruiz in the first round.

Schaefer said Russell, who also has nursed hand injuries, will return on June 30 on a Showtime card that Golden Boy is planning to take place in Washington, D.C., Russell's hometown. It would be Russell's first professional bout in his hometown.

Showtime will still have the top two fights on the April 21 card at the Don Haskins Center. Abner Mares (23-0-1, 13 KOs), who recently gave up his bantamweight belt, moves up in weight to face Eric Morel (46-2, 33 KOs) for a vacant junior featherweight title, and bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno (32-1-1, 11 KOs) defends his belt against David De La Mora (24-1, 17 KOs).