It’s overdue even by his deeply underwhelming standards, but Gary Russell Jr. has his next assignment. Keith Idec reports and Mike Coppinger confirms that Russell will face mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo atop a January 22nd PBC on Showtime card, location TBD.
Russell (31-1, 20 KO) hasn’t fought since February 2020, when he took a solid decision over then-unbeaten Tugstsogt Nyambayar in Allentown. Said fight was his first mandatory defense since beating JoJo Diaz in May 2018, which violates the WBC’s requirement that titlists face mandatories once per year, but the sanctioning body’s rules state that it can alter that rule at any time per its “sole discretion.”
Russell had reportedly agreed to face Rey Vargas all the way back in March, but the fight vanished without a trace, and the WBC announced at its recent convention that Vargas was now the secondary mandatory.
I can’t blame Russell for fighting once a year if it makes financial sense and keeps his health intact. I can, however, blame Mauricio Sulaiman and co. for constantly breaking their own rules to let him keep the belt.
Anyway, anger vomit over.
Magsayo (23-0, 16 KO) earned his mandatory status by violently ending a gritty action fight with former titlist Julio Ceja on the August 21st Manny Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugas card. “Magnifico” definitely has promise, but he’ll be a larger underdog than Vargas.