Are Gary Russell and Rey Vargas still going to fight?
This year has been weird when it has come to boxing. Fights have either been delayed, canceled, or lacked information on when they will happen. WBC featherweight champion “Mr.” Gary Russell Jr. (31-1, 18ko) is said to be fighting former WBC Junior featherweight champion Rey Vargas (34-0, 22ko). However, things have been quiet to the point that fans are wondering will the fight happen.
The featherweight division has been in dire need of unification. The last big fight in the division was arguably when then IBF champion Josh Warrington fought mandatory challenger Kid Galahad back in 2019.
Gary Russell is the division’s longest-reigning champion. He captured the title back in 2015, after stopping then-champion Jhonny Gonzalez in the fourth round. The WBC champion has only fought once per year since winning the title, which has driven fans up a wall.
This author has often said Russell is a fighter, with pound-for-pound list talent, that does not fight enough. Furthermore, he has promised to fight more only to continue with the yearly mandatory defense, and disappear until the following year.
The WBC champion was last in the ring against mandatory challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar back in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he did not fight at all in 2020. However, fans saw a lot of him in more high profile social media beef than fights. Russell was looking for a big name to fight and was calling out the likes of Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney, and Ryan Garcia. His back and forth with Haney and WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford dominated fans’ attention for a while in 2020.
After several failed attempts at getting any of the previously mentioned names to fight, it seemed as if the big-name opponent he was looking for was never going to come.
RUSSELL FINALLY GETS A BIG NAME OPPONENT
That was until the WBC placed Vargas as the mandatory and ordered the fight. This was good news to the boxing community and it is a big name that Russell needs.
Rey Vargas first captured championship gold defeating Gavin McDonnell for the vacant title back in 2017. He made five successful title defenses and was on track to face his toughest challenger to date in former WBC bantamweight champion Luis Nery. However, Vargas was placed as champion in recess after suffering a broken leg that has kept him out of the ring since 2019.
During this time frame as the champion in recess, he decided to move up to the featherweight division and was immediately placed in the number one spot. In March, fans got even more excited when reports came in that both Russell and Vargas had agreed to terms.
WHAT IS THE HOLD-UP?
It has been five months and there has been no information on if, or when, this fight will happen. In addition, things have been so quiet that the majority of fans have forgotten about it altogether.
There are only four months left in the year, and there has been no news concerning the fight happening at all. It is a shame a fight of this magnitude has gone radio silent for some unknown reason. Moreover, with each passing month, it becomes increasingly doubtful it will take place at all this year.
By: Garrisson Bland