Russ Anber reflects on working Vasiliy Lomachenko’s corner versus Richard Commey, missing Beterbiev-Browne due to Covid and a year to be proud of in his final Boxing Social column of 2021…

I’ve just ended a period of isolation after catching Covid when I went to New York to work Vasiliy Lomachenko’s corner against Richard Commey.

Having Covid for me was like having a bad flu – the Sunday and the Monday after the fight were the worst days for me. The dry cough I had was the hardest thing to deal with – every time I coughed it felt like my brain was being shaken and it would hurt my back. From Tuesday onwards I started to feel a lot better but I’m still experiencing some after effects – my tea still tastes funny and I don’t seem to feel full after I eat.

Apart from ending up with Covid, working the Loma fight was a great experience. Loma certainly put a few doubters in their place with his performance.

I’ve said before that a lot of boxing fans and media are the worst in terms of hailing someone as a hero or the GOAT one day and then the next day writing them off. The lack of respect for Loma after he lost to Teofimo Lopez in a close fight was insane. People were treating him like he didn’t exist.

Since the Lopez fight, Loma has fought two live opponents, two leading lightweights who not many other people want to fight, and he still hasn’t been given a chance to regain the titles he lost against Lopez, which I think is a criminal act, one of the worst criminal acts in boxing this century.

I mean consider for a moment what Loma has achieved – from his incredible amateur record, to having 15 world titles fight in 18 pro fights, to being the fastest man to win world titles in three divisions to the exemplary way he has always conducted himself in and out of the ring … 

Despite all these achievements, he still hasn’t been given or guaranteed a shot to regain those lightweight titles. This would never have happened to AJ or Canelo, and it’s despicable. If anyone deserves the chance to regain their titles it’s Loma. He needs a shot at George Kambosos right now – it’s as simple as that.

Loma was simply terrific against Commey. It was a masterclass. It felt like a flashback to the peak years of Roy Jones, when he dominated world level fighters. It was a virtuoso performance by a man I see as a modern boxing legend, the likes of which we may never see again.

The way that Loma sits in the pocket and guys throw shots at him but can’t even hit him with a handful of rice is astonishing. He sets a pace very few people can stand and the only reason people like Commey can even begin to attempt to compete with him is because of the size advantage they have. Commey showed a lot of heart but had no answer to Loma’s overall skill.

Loma’s demeanour in the build-up to the fight was very composed, as he always is. He was very relaxed before the fight. In the lead-up to the fight I spent an hour with him and his father in Loma’s hotel room, we talked boxing and were shooting the shit about life in general, and Loma was very calm and relaxed. It’s such a pleasure to work with him and watch him perform.

Unfortunately, the Loma-Commey fight ended up being my final corner assignment of 2021 as a frustrating by-product of being struck down with Covid was that I couldn’t work Artur Beterbiev’s corner for his fight against Marcus Browne.

I can tell you I would have really relished being there for that beat-down of Marcus Browne. That would have been a highlight of my year, for sure! Re-watch the fight and you’ll see how obvious and egregious Browne’s fouling was – he was leading with his head, he was ducking in with his head, he was rubbing his head on to the wound Artur had, not to mention the low blows and rabbit punches he threw. He’s a dirty fighter and I’m glad Artur broke him like he did.

I felt bad not being a part of it, because I’ve been in Artur’s corner for the whole of his pro career. I watched the fight at home and I was standing in front of the TV the whole time. I didn’t sit down once! I tell you I was more nervous in my living room than I’ve ever been in the corner of a fight!

Of course Artur suffered a terrible cut and my stand-in Luc Vincent Ouellet did a great job. Luc called me  up after the fight and said: ‘Russ, did I do ok? Everyone else says I did ok, but I don’t give a shit what anyone else says, I need to know what you think!’

Laughingly I said to him: ‘Luc, believe me, I would take great pride in telling you how terribly you did, but I can’t because under the circumstances you couldn’t have done more than you did.’

All in all, despite missing Beterbiev-Browne, despite the ongoing pandemic and despite ending the year with Covid, it’s been a great year for me.

I’ve been in Moscow with Beterbiev, the USA with Loma and Janibek, Belfast with Conlan and London with Usyk to name but a few highlights.

Sometimes I lose track of exactly how many fights I’ve worked and where I’ve been so now that I’ve taken a moment to reflect on the year it’s with a great deal of satisfaction.

I’ve got so many wonderful memories from the year, each of them special in their own right. I’m fortunate to have worked so many great fights at so many great events.

However, it’s often the case that after one fight is done then it’s on to the next one. That doesn’t always leave me with a whole lot of time to reflect but now we’re at the end of the year I can look back on everything I’ve achieved with a great deal of satisfaction.

Russ Anber was talking to Luke G. Williams.

Russ Anber is the founder/CEO of Rival Boxing, as well as a highly respected trainer (of both pros and amateurs), a gym owner, a cut-man, an entrepreneur, a broadcaster and one of the best hand wrappers in the boxing business. Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk, Artur Beterbiev, Callum Smith and Michael Conlan are among the many top boxers Russ currently works with.