On Wednesday, it was officially announced that WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. would return to the ring for his next world title defense.

Russell will collide with WBC mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo.

Their fight will headline a Showtime televised tripleheader on Saturday, January 22 from the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.

Russell (31-1, 18 KOs), 33-years-old, has held his title since 2015 when he stopped multiple division champion Jhonny Gonzalez to emphatically capture the belt. 

He will enter the ring with nearly two years of inactivity - which is longer than usual even for Russell.

On average, Russell enters the ring once a year. The last time Russell fought more than once in a single year was back in 2014. 

Russell's last fight took place in February 2020, when he outpointed the previously unbeaten Tugstsogt Nyambayar on his way to his fifth title defense.

The 26-year-old Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOs), who is promoted by Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions, enters the ring on the back of a brutal knockout win over former champion Julio Ceja, which took place in August.

After being on the shelf for some time, Russell is very motivated to showcase his skills.

“I’m ready and I’ve been waiting to display my talents and get back in the ring,” said Russell.

“My opponent is one of Manny Pacquiao’s fighters, who is a legend in the sport and I’m pretty sure has a good eye for talent. I’m sure he signed Magsayo for a reason. I know that I’m facing a guy who’s willing to put it all on the line, with everything to gain and nothing to lose.”