Russell Jr. was ESPN's Prospect of the Year in 2011 and at the time looked to be on the verge of moving up to the world-class level. He's fought five times since and remained undefeated, but he has yet to seriously improve the quality of his opposition.
But he'll finally be challenging for a world title this Saturday in Carson. A win over Lomachenko will mean Russell might finally be developing into the star many have been expecting him to be.
While Russell's development into a world-title challenger has been slow, Lomachenko's has been the quickest in professional boxing history. After winning two Olympic gold medals and compiling a 396-1 record as an amatuer, the Ukrainian jumped straight into the deep waters as a pro. This is his third fight but his second time challenging for the WBO featherweight belt.
Last March, Lomachenko came up short against Salido, who relinquished the title on the scales when he didn't even seriously try to make weight. Salido ended up close to 20 pounds heavier than Lomachenko on fight night, and the former elite amateur was bullied by Salido's awkward and bruising style.
Still, Lomachenko absorbed some heavy punishment and adjusted to fight well in the later part of the fight, even earning the decision on one judge's card. Against Russell, he at least won't have to contend with fighting a much larger and more experienced opponent.