'Hitman' Russell always confident of return to ring
RUSSELL...I came back because I knew how good I am and I am among some of the best in the world (Photo:Observer file)

Boxer Kemahl "The Hitman" Russell says he was always confident he would return to the sport in spite of a five-year hiatus.

Russell made his return to boxing in a fourth-round technical knockout win over Argentinian Marcos Jesus Cornejo in Ontario, Canada, on April 29. This was after being out of action because of injuries, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Russell says he was always confident he had more left in him at 34 years old.

"I knew that I had much more to offer to the sport before I retired, so this is why I came back," he told the Jamaica Observer. "I came back because I knew how good I am and I am among some of the best in the world. I just need to prove it now. I just need to go out there and promote my fight, and show the world."

Although he was confident, he did harbour some doubts in the weeks leading up to the bout with Cornejo because he knew he had to work off what he calls "rustiness".

"The only time I had doubts was about two weeks before the fight, where I was wondering who I was, if I was still talented, if I still had the skill because I was a little rusty," he said. "I realised I couldn't pull the trigger as I wanted — my movement, my timing, my fitness, certain things weren't there.

"I work hard and train two to three times a day and I eat well, so it doesn't take long for me to get back into shape. That wasn't the problem. The problem was the other faculties in the ring. Timing, rhythm, all those things mattered. I was always in shape, boxing shape is a little different but I knew that once I trained for a month, then I will be back in shape."

Although Russell got the win 1:29 minutes into the fourth round, he was not pleased with how he gained it. Referee Donovan Boucher stopped the contest because Cornejo was taking too many unanswered hits.

Russell says he wanted to knock him out in round five.

"I wasn't 100 per cent satisfied with how I won because the fight was stopped in the fourth round, unexpectedly," he said. "I wanted to stop the fight myself. I welcomed the fight but I won regardless — a fourth-round knockout, I got some rounds in. The main thing was to shake the rust off, so I think I accomplished that."

Russell expects to be back in the ring within months and also has plans for his home crowd.

"There's much more to come," he said. "I think I should be fighting in the next two months or so, but let's see how it goes. It a guh deal wid itself.

"I'm going to be fighting locally soon, not just internationally. I'll let you know as soon as I know. I want to give the people the energy and the vibe again to bring back Jamaican boxing to where it was."

Russell, signed with Ontario, Canada-based United Boxing Promotions, run by Tyler Buxton, moved his record to 14 wins (12 by knockout), one loss (by knockout), and no draws.

RACHID PARCHMENT Digital sports coordinator parchmentr@jamaicaobserver.com

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