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WBC orders Gary Russell Jr vs. Rey Vargas

Gary Russell Jr.

By Jeff Aronow: Gary Russell Jr has been ordered to defend his WBC featherweight title against Rey Vargas by the World Boxing Council. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman says the unbeaten Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs) moves up in eight to challenge Russell Jr (31-1, 18 KOs) for his belt.

Vargas, 30, still holds the WBC super bantamweight, but his last defense of the belt was a year and a half ago against Tamoki Kameda in July 2019. That’s a long time to go between title defenses for a champion in the lighter weight classes.  Vargas vs. Kamedia was a war from start to finish.

Some boxing fans won’t be pleased with the news of Vargas moving up to 126. They were hoping to see him face Luis Nery. A fight between them would have been exciting.

Vargas likes to brawl, and the southpaw Nery has a lot of power and youth going for him.

Russell, 32, successfully defended his WBC 126-lb title last February, defeating Tugstsogt Nyambayar by a 12 round unanimous decision.

Gary Russell Jr.

Recently, Russell Jr has been trying to fight against WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney and WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford.

Unfortunately, nothing came of Russell’s effort, but he did get a lot of attention in the media with his calling out of those two champions.

“He’s [Gary Russell Jr] now in the mandatory stage, and we’ve ordered Rey Vargas, who is the former [WBC] super bantamweight champion,” said WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman to Behind The Gloves.

“He  [Rey Vargas] was the ‘Champion in Recess,’ and he’s moving up in weight, and he’s exercised his option to become [WBC 126-lb] mandatory in the new division. So we’ve ordered Rey Vargas to fight Gary Russell, and the free negotiations have begun now.

Sulaiman: Teofimo Lopez proved himself worthy of the Franchise title

“This is a great division, and it is very, very hot,” said Sulaiman about the 135-lb [lightweight] division. “We’re happy how it’s shaped up. The WBC Franchise designation is a new concept, and I am very happy with how it is playing out specifically in this weight category.

Gary Russell Jr.

Teofimo Lopez was able to fight Lomachenko and become the undisputed champion in the lightweight division.

“Teofimo proved that he’s at the level to be a Franchise champion [by beating Vasily Lomachenko last October]. Devin Haney defended the WBC championship by fighting [Yuriorkis] Gamboa, and we had Ryan Garcia against Luke Campbell.

Spence is in WBC voluntary stage after defense against Danny Garcia

“Errol Spence just did his [WBC] mandatory defense against Danny Garcia on December 5th, so right now, he’s in a voluntary stage,” said Sulaiman. “The WBC will fully support a unification bout with Terence Crawford.

Gary Russell Jr.

“That’s a fight that everybody wishes to see, and if there’s anything we can do to enhance it, we will do so.

“I believe Errol Spence has a mandatory defense with the IBF. I’m not sure about that, but these are the things we have to deal with. Hopefully, Spence and Crawford will happen. It’s a great fight for boxing,” said Sulaiman.”

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