Gary Russell Jr.’s annual fight will take place on May 18th when he faces Kiko Martinez on the Deontay Wilder-Dominic Breazeale undercard. The fight was originally planned for April 27th.
I do not understand how the WBC is allowing this. Their rules and regulations explicitly say that a champion “shall make at least one (1) mandatory defense per year, unless an exception is granted by the WBC in its sole discretion,” and Russell Jr. (29-1, 17 KO) hasn’t fought since taking a decision over JoJo Diaz last May. He has a mandatory challenger in Tugstsogt Nyambayar, who outslugged Claudio Marrero in January.
Then again, the sanctioning body does have Martinez (39-8-2, 28 KO) ranked third at the weight despite him having zero (0) quality wins since 2014, so maybe expecting rationality was a mistake.
The Showtime card will open with unbeaten super lightweight prospect Juan Heraldez (16-0, 10 KO) facing former super featherweight champion Argenis Mendez (25-5-2, 12 KO).