Advertisement: IBO Boxing

Gary Russell vs. Leo Santa Cruz is Ordered By The WBC

By Keith Idec

The WBC ordered the best featherweight fight that can be made in boxing during its annual convention Wednesday in Kiev, Ukraine.

The Mexico City-based sanctioning organization announced that its featherweight champion, Gary Russell Jr., must make a mandatory defense of his title against fellow champion Leo Santa Cruz. Russell-Santa Cruz is one of the fights Premier Boxing Champions’ Al Haymon wants to make at some point in 2019, but the WBC’s order could expediate scheduling that 126-pound showdown and make it the next fight for each champion.

Russell (29-1, 17 KOs) made a mandatory defense of his 126-pound championship in his last bout. The southpaw from Capitol Heights, Maryland, out-boxed previously undefeated Joseph Diaz Jr. (27-1, 14 KOs) in that 12-rounder May 19 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.


The 30-year-old Russell fights infrequently, though, which limits his opportunities to make voluntary title defenses between meeting mandatory obligations. The 2008 Olympian has fought just three times since knocking out Mexico’s Jhonny Gonzalez in the fourth round to win the WBC featherweight crown in March 2015.

The 30-year-old Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) owns the WBA “super” featherweight title and thus isn’t ranked among the WBC’s top 40 featherweight contenders. In his most recent bout, the Rosemead, California, native beat Abner Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-round rematch June 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

As the WBA’s world featherweight champion, Mares was the mandatory challenger for Santa Cruz’s crown.

The Philippines’ Mark Magsayo (18-0, 13 KOs) is the WBC’s No. 1 contender for Russell’s title.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by Deontay Wilder on 12-09-2018

Great fight, let's go Haymon! Maybe Fury vs. Wilder II undercard?

Comment by Michael1437 on 10-04-2018

This would be a great fight, although Russell has looked great recently.

Comment by deanrw on 10-04-2018

I like both guys and I'll let them predict the winner. Here is a little tidbit of how nice of a guy Leo is. Travis Gotti made a video a couple years ago claiming Leo ignored him during an interview…

Comment by 5burowz on 10-04-2018

Great, pick-em fight, with a lot of punches thrown.

Comment by markther on 10-04-2018

[QUOTE=KTFOKING;19164740]Definitely don't think he folded against Diaz. It was a tough fight through six and then GRJ kind of took over. So don't think you can say he folded vs Diaz. As for Lomachenko, to me GRJ got more schooled…

Top Headlines
De La Hoya Wants Ryan Garcia in World Title Fight By Year's End Joshua Aims To Jump Ahead of Fury Trilogy To Face Wilder in 2020 Fulton Out To Steal Danny Garcia's Saturday Night Show in Brooklyn Ryan Garcia Names Linares, Campbell, Davis For 2020 Four-Fight Wish List Manager: Salamov, Vlasov Both Want WBO Light Heavyweight Title Fight Ryan Garcia: I Get Paid Good Money To Post Every Day Oscar Rivas Closing in On Multi-Fight Deal With Top Rank Takeshi Inoue Takes Down Cheng Su in Two Rounds in Tokyo Eleider Alvarez Looks Forward To Joe Smith Showdown Anthony Sims vs. Roamer Angulo Set For Andrade-Keeler Card Former Coach Did Not See Much of a Change in Felix Verdejo USA Boxing Olympic Qualification: Draw For Strandja Tournament Set Lawrence Okolie Could See a Move To Heavyweight in 2021 Fortuna-Campbell: WBC Grants One Week Extension, Purse Bid Hearing Delayed Rosario Knew He 'Had Williams When They Offered Me The Fight' Julian Williams: I've Been Here Before; I'll Bounce Back Even Better Rosario's Promoter: Julian Williams 'Definitely' Overlooked Him! Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas To Carry Full VADA Testing Triple WBA World Title Rumble in "KO To Drugs" Festival in Panama Significant Continental Forum 2020 AIBA in Panama UFC's White Compares McGregor To Ali, Tyson, Leonard Tyson Fury Maps Next Three Fights: Wilder, Joshua, Then Whyte Jeison Rosario Breaks Down TKO of Julian Williams All Roads Lead To Floyd Mayweather. Still. Tyson Fury: After I Beat Wilder - I'll Sit Down With Dana White Alberto Machado's Handlers Pushing For Francisco Vargas Clash Oubaali vs. Donaire WBC Bantamweight Title Fight Heads To Purse Bid Hearing McGregor: Mayweather Going Through Money Fast - Rematch Will Happen Fortuna vs. Campbell: WBC Orders Purse Bid, Jan. 21 in Mexico City Claressa Shields Fires Back at Laila Ali: You're All Bark, No Bite! Chris Colbert: I Knew I Was Going To Dominate The Corrales Fight Felix Verdejo: I Give Myself a 'C' - I Want To Keep Working Hard Alvarez: I Wanted To Come Back as The Fighter That Beat Kovalev Rosario: I Saw My Power Affected Julian Williams Right Away Eleider Alvarez Blasts Out Michael Seals With One Shot Julian Williams: I Have Rematch Clause, It Will Be Immediate! Jeison Rosario Batters Julian Williams in Huge Upset Felix Verdejo, Christopher Diaz Get Wins in New York Jonathan Guzman Blasts Hernandez in Knockdown War Joey Spencer: I'm Going To Stay Busy, Have Four Fights in 2020
Latest Forum Threads