Still No Word On When Gary Russell Jr Will Return!
Long-reigning WBC featherweight champion “Mr” Gary Russell (31-1, 18KOs) has still has not provided any word on his return. This may not surprise fans simply because Russell have become accustomed to fighting once per year. However, the fact that he has not fought at least one time in 2021 as we approach the fourth quarter of the year is a surprise!
With big fights eluding him, he’s been relegated to facing strictly his mandatory challengers. He was set to face mandatory challenger and former WBC junior featherweight champion Rey Vargas at some point this year. Sure enough, Vargas isn’t on the level of a WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney, WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford or WBA “regular” junior welterweight champ Gervonta Davis.
However, he still provides a bigger name than Russell’s previous opponents. However, as of September 2021, there has not been any update on if and when that fight is going to happen.
Over the last year, the Maryland native looked to changed that. He tied to pick fights with Haney and Davis. Russell even looked to jump as high as welterweight to fight Crawford.
Unfortunately, none of those fights materialized. A lot of his lack of big fights can be placed squarely on his shoulders. Russell made it clear on more than one occasion, that boxing more than once a year isn’t a top priority, unless they’re big fights. Clearly, his attempts to secure big marquee fights signaled a change in his thought process.
Having been a champion since 2015, he’s only made six title defenses! That’s right, six! That’s quite ridiculous, if I’m being honest. It would be one thing if he was injured or going through a legal battle with his promoter or manager, but he’s not. Currently, the champions at featherweight include WBO titlist Emanuel Navarrete, IBF belt-holder Kid Galahad and another long-reigning champion in WBA titlist Leo Santa Cruz.
The latter has not been heard of since taking a brutal sixth round knockout loss to Davis in October 2020. That bout was fought within the junior lightweight limit and there is no word on whether Santa Cruz will return to the featherweight division. Regardless, Russell has been trying to secure a bout with Santa Cruz for years now. But to no avail, the WBA champ has never been too eager to stage this unification.
Let’s hope that Russell can finally get the lack-of-big-fights monkey off his back and truly get in the mix, because at 33 years old, time is ticking.
By: Jerrell Fletcher