Ring Magazine has surprisingly removed WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. from their 126-lb rankings because of inactivity. The long-standing six-year WBC featherweight champion Russell Jr. (31-1-1, 18 KOs) hasn’t fought in 19 months since his successful defense against Tugstsogt Nyambayar in February 2020, and he still has no fight scheduled in 2021.
With Russell Jr. no longer in the Ring ratings, WBO featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete has slid into the #1 spot, and IBF champion Kid Galahad is now #2. Currently, the Ring Magazine featherweight title is vacant, but if those two meet in the future, the winner will be the champion.
Before this move by RING Magazine, Russell has been widely criticized by boxing fans for him fighting only once a year for the last six years since 2015, and they feel that he’s done just the minimum as the WBC 126-lb champion to ensure that he would hold onto his title for as long as possible without losing it.
Fighting only once a year against beatable fighters like Patrick Hyland, Kiko Martinez, and Oscar Escandon has made it easy for Russell Jr. to hold onto his WBC title without getting beaten again.
The World Boxing Council can’t strip Russell Jr. of his title because up until now, he’s been defending the strap yearly.
Whether Russell Jr. fights in 2021 is unclear, but you got to believe his management at Premier Boxing Champion will find someone soon for him to get a fight in before the end of the year.
Given that Russell’s last fight against Tugstsogt ‘King Tug’ Nyambayar was a mandatory defense last year, it’s predictable that he’ll be facing a fringe-level opponent for his next match this year.
Although Russell has called out many fighters from other weight classes like 13o and 135, he’s not talked lately about fighting anyone at 126, which is odd because this is where he holds his WBC title.
For Russell, he’s in a virtually dead division at this point, as all the popular fighters have moved up to 130 and 135. The guys that Russell Jr. could potentially face, like Navarrete or Kid Galahad at 126, aren’t popular enough in the U.S for him to make a huge amount of money fighting.
Russell Jr would get a big payday if he could get a fight with Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, which is why he’s been calling him out lately, but he has virtually no shot at getting that fight.
When Russell Jr. does return to the ring, he’ll likely be defending his WBC title against one of these fighters from the World Boxing Council’s rankings: