October 3rd 2018: By Wilson Urena
The World Boxing Council (WBC) has ordered their featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. face Leo Santa Cruz. It’s a highly anticipated matchup that fans have an interest in seeing. The bout would be a unification bout as Santa Cruz holds the World Boxing Association (WBA) title.
Russell who defended his title back in May defeating Joseph “JoJo” Diaz by unanimous decision. However, Russell has been plagued by inactivity, he hasn’t fought multiple times in a year since 2014. Santa Cruz defeated Abner Mares by unanimous decision in June of this year. Santa Cruz picked up a WBC secondary belt in the bout, winning the featherweight diamond belt.
Santa Cruz has been on a 3 fights win streak since his lone loss to Carl Frampton, a lost who would later avenge. A bout between Russell and Russell would pin the two best featherweights against one another. However, can we see it this year? Both men fight on Showtime and the budget may force the bout to take place in the first half of 2019. Showtime just recently signed a 50 million dollars a year deal with the rep of both fighters Al Haymon. There’s a chance that we could see it at year’s end, but not likely with most of the budget already allocated for the remainder of the year.
Russell has entertained a move up in weight but this bout may just be the best available for either man and it would be quite disappointing if the public doesn’t get to see it. Russell and Santa Cruz in a unification bout is now more of a reality than a dream and should happen.