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Quick Jabs: Gary Russell needs tougher fights, Tony Thompson still has it, more

Tony Thompson (left) recorded a TKO victory over David Price on July 6 in Liverpool. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images) Tony Thompson (left) recorded a TKO victory over David Price on July 6 in Liverpool. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Some quick jabs...

• Raise your hand if you are surprised that featherweight prospect Gary Russell turned down a fight with Daniel Ponce de Leon. No one? I thought so. Ponce de Leon, according to Steve Kim at MaxBoxing.com, was ready and willing to take the fight, only to be told that Russell (22-0), who has not fought since March because of a hand injury, preferred to take an easier fight. That’s not particularly surprising because Russell’s entire career has been easy fights. I’m as big a fan of Russell’s talent as anyone, but until he faces an opponent who actually wants to fight back, he doesn’t belong on premium television.

• Neither, of course, does Deontay Wilder, who continues his run through bums when he faces Siarhei Liakhovich, last seen getting flattened by Bryant Jennings 18 months ago and knocked out by Robert Helenius the year before that, in August. Showtime will broadcast it. Pathetic.

• The late Emanuel Steward would have been 69 this week. If you missed it, here is the tribute I shot of him for Epix.

Last year, Tony Thompson thought his career was over. It was in Switzerland, and Thompson had just suffered a sixth round knockout defeat to Wladimir Klitschko, his second straight loss to the unified champion. I was part of the broadcast team for Epix that night, and I remember what Thompson told me clearly: I still think I can beat anyone but Wladimir, he said, but if I can’t beat him, is it worth continuing? Apparently, it is. Thompson’s knockout win over David Price on Saturday was his second straight knockout of Price, a prized prospect seen by some as the heir apparent to Wladimir Klitschko. It made me remember: Since 2000, Thompson has lost two fights, both to the man considered the best heavyweight of this generation.

At 41, Thompson clearly still has some fight left in him. He’s awkward, crafty and has a good chin. He wants a title shot with Vitali Klitschko, but that’s not going to happen. However Thompson has earned another big fight -- and another big payday -- and I could see some kind of premium network televised fight against a young prospect like Bryant Jennings or Deontay Wilder at some point later this year.

• I think promoter Frank Warren made a big mistake matching heavyweight Dereck Chisora with Malik Scott on July 20. Chisora is trying to rebuild his career after back to back losses to Vitali Klitschko and David Haye, and Scott is a nightmare. He is the worst kind of combination, incredibly dull and incredibly skilled, the kind of fighter who impresses judges while putting an audience to sleep. Scott was robbed of a win against Czar Glazkov in February, and is very likely to box circles around Chisora later this month.

• Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer refuted reports of a deal being struck for a fight between Lucas Matthysse and Danny Garcia, telling me via email that neither a deal nor a date had been agreed on. I continue to hear from industry sources that there is a strong possibility the fight could land on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez on September 14. If so, that will rank as one of the best cards in history.

• One reason Matthysse-Garcia could move off the originally planned September 7th date: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is scheduled to return on that date. Though judging by recent photos of Chavez it’s fair to wonder exactly what weight class he plans to fight in.

-- Chris Mannix

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