Russell excited at prospect of home title defence
Junior North American Boxing Federation middleweight champion Kemahl 'The Hitman' Russell has said that it is an amazing and special feeling to have the opportunity to defend his title in front of the Jamaican public in January.
The location for the bout has not yet been decided, but Real Deal Boxing's Evander Holyfield, a four-time world heavyweight champion, and other officials, will be in the island next month in search of an ideal venue. However, Russell's opponent has not yet been named.
"I want to be an inspiration to other boxers," Russell told The Gleaner. "I feel I've made a special move right here because I've brought both (of my) promotional companies (Real Deal Boxing and Uprising Promotions) to Jamaica.
Russell added that there is an advantage to him defending his title at home, saying that he knows that he will have his friends and Jamaicans, as a whole, backing him.
"It could be seen by some as a win/lose situation by some because there's pressure to perform for my people, but there will be more pressure on my opponent to perform on the night. He's not just fighting me. He's fighting the whole of Jamaica."
His manager, Leiza-Mae Keane of K'NRG Management, agrees with him.
"Jamaica is where the majority of his fan base lies," she said. "So it comes with many advantages. Having his own support right there in the audience is a natural boost for the fighter. Kemahl has spent most of his professional career attaining victories and representing his country on unfamiliar turf. Also, having this fight take place in front of a legend such as Evander Holyfield is the greatest opportunity we have had to date."
Keane added that a venture like this may be important in allowing corporate Jamaica to see the benefits in giving boxing more financial support.
"It's been years of trying to get corporate Jamaica to understand the importance of having more fights, and more importantly, title fights in Jamaica. This opportunity will only facilitate in building brand Jamaica."
Jamaica Boxing Board of Control (JBBC) president, Stephen 'Bomber' Jones, said that the association is willing to do whatever necessary to ensure that this event, and more that may occur in the future, goes ahead as smoothly as possible.
"As a fan of the sport, I'm most proud of the fact that in 2012, we not only hosted a world title fight here in Jamaica, but we, on that night, saw the first Jamaican to win a title match on home soil," Jones said. "If it's been done once, we cannot only do it again, but we can do it again on a consistent basis. A title fight is always on the radar for the JBBC, but ideally, we would love to host one when a Jamaican boxer is involved in the bout."
The last major title fight to take place in Jamaica happened at the National Indoor Sports Complex in Kingston in 2012. On this night, Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters defeated Colombian Daulis Prescott for the vacant WBA Featherweight title.