Unbeaten featherweight Gary Russell Jr,. who was declared the WBO’s mandatory challenger to Mexican titleholder Orlando Salido last month, is scheduled to return to the ring against an opponent to be determined on the undercard of a Dec. 13 Golden Boy Live! event at the the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, Calif., according to Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez.
A 25-year-old 2004 U.S. Olympian, Russell (23-0, 13 knockouts) is coming off a unanimous decision over Juan Ruiz in August.
Russell’s designation as mandatory challenger, made by WBO President Paco Valcarcel, would not preclude a planned voluntary defense for Salido (40-12-2, 28 KOs) against Ukrainian amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko for March 1, a possibility mentioned by Top Rank CEO Bob Arum.
The prospect of making Salido-Russell or Russell-Lomachenko could be complicated since Arum and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer are feuding and are aligned with rival networks, HBO and Showtime, respectively.
In addition, Russell has been promoted by Golden Boy through advisor Al Haymon, with whom Arum also has had an adversarial relationship.
In earlier interviews, however, Arum and Schaefer said they do not expect any trouble in making a fight with Russell, and if there is, each brought up the notion of a “purse bid” as a resolution.
Meanwhile, Lopez (30-6, 18 KOs) will face New York’s Mike Arnaoutis (24-9-2, 11 KOs), a 34-year-old veteran who is 3-7 in his past 10 fights. A former 140-pound title challenger, Arnaoutis was stopped by Victor Ortiz and Danny Garcia during that time.
Vargas (17-0, 13 KOs), a 28-year-old Mexican Olympian, is matched against Jerry Belmontes (18-2, 5 KOs), a 24-year-old former prospect from Corpus Christi, Texas, who has lost two of his past three fights and was last in the ring for a unanimous decision loss to Andrew Cancio in July.
Photo / Craig Bennett
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org