This may be the moment we have all been waiting for. Eternal Prospect of the Year winner Gary Russell Jr. may finally be forced to take the training wheels off of his career and take an actual fight against someone who may have a chance. Ironically, it may come against a man whose career has taken the polar opposite path, Vasyl Lomachenko.
Lomachenko is challenging for the WBO featherweight title in only his second professional bout, something unprecedented in today's era of building up sparkly, undefeated records that carry zero weight. He'll be fighting Orlando Salido on March 1st in San Antonio, Texas. Salido is a very good, if sloppy, pressure fighter who is an awfully difficult task to take on for one's second pro fight.
However, there was a little catch to the bout being sanctioned, apparently. According to Luke Furman at Boxing Scene the fight was sanctioned on the basis that the winner would face the mandatory challenger within 75 days. The man currently ranked at the top of the WBO's featherweight rankings? Gary Russell Jr.
Of course, Russell is advised by Al Haymon and being promoted by Golden Boy while Salido and Lomachenko work with Top Rank. So what does that mean will happen? Unless the promotional giants decide to make amends over a relatively small fight like this, the most likely outcome is a purse bid.
Either that or Russell could always just pass on the title opportunity and forever be The Next Big Thing.