By: Hans Themistode
In what fans have grown accustomed to hearing from Gary Russell Jr., the WBC featherweight titlist will face a mandatory challenger. This time, in the form of Rey Vargas, the former super bantamweight world champion. Both sides have agreed to a deal and have avoided a purse bid.
Presently, no date or venue has been officially named but fans are preparing for the long-reigning champion to appear in the ring only once this year. If so, this would be Russell Jr.’s seventh straight year doing so.
For the vast majority of his elongated title reign, Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs) has only competed once per year against his mandatory challengers. Keeping such a schedule has allowed him to fulfill the obligations of the WBC sanctioning body but it has frustrated the fans of the talented fighter as they continually hope to see him more.
In his last ring appearance, the Maryland resident easily outboxed Tugstsogt Nyambayar over the course of 12 rounds. The now 32-year-old may not be active in the ring but that hasn’t stopped him from making the rounds on social media as he has continues to call out numerous fighters.
Amongst those on his Hitlist, have been WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney and WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford.
As for Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs), his time outside of the ring could reach two years by the time he officially takes on Russell Jr. The former 122-pound champion dealt with a broken leg and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Before his long stretch of inactivity, Vargas dominated his competition.
While he could have opted to stay at 122 pounds, Vargas found the opportunity to become a two-division world champion more appealing and became Russell Jr.’s immediate mandatory when he moved up in weight earlier this year.