Gary Russell Jr retained his WBC featherweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision against mandatory challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar in the main event of a stacked card on Showtime in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Russell improves to 31-1 (18 KOs) in making the fifth successful defense of his title while Nyambayar falls to 11-1, (9 KOs). Judges scored the bout 116-112, 117-111, and 118-110, all for Russell.
However, CompuBox unofficial stats indicated that the fight was much closer with Russell landing only 12 more shots than Nyambayar (134-of-867 to 122-of-707)
The American said before the fight that he wants a title unification against super featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz. Whether we see these two go head-to-head or speedster in the ring again in 2020 is anyone’s guess since he’s only fought once per year from 2015-19.
Russell showed signs of fatigue as the fight wore on but did more than enough to net the win by building an early lead. He didn’t dominate either but made good use of his superior speed, timing and experience to turn the 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Mongolia back.
Nyambayar was gracious in defeat and made no excuses. “It wasn’t my night,” the Mongolian said.
“He was the better man tonight. I didn’t do my work the way I was supposed to. He is a great champion who fought a great fight.
“I made a mistake by waiting for him during the fight. I’d love the rematch if I can get it.”
Nyambayar just couldn’t land his heavier shots to change the tide of the fight as Russell showed excellent defense. Even when the 27-year-old landed a hard shot, Russell took them well.
Trainer Ismael Salas started to urge Nyambayar to pick up the pace before the eighth round. But it was Russell who nailed his foe with a good right hook 20 seconds into the round and then eluded him for the rest of the stanza.
This was in sharp contrast to the previous seventh round when the two fighters traded hard shots in an exciting fast-paced exchange.
Only when Russell actually began to slow down late in the tenth round was Nyambayar able to find some success with a few body shots.
That success continued into the eleventh as Russell continued to move less and trade with him more. They would fight to a virtual standstill in the final round with neither fighter landing anything noteworthy.
‘King Tut’ gave a good account of himself against one of the best featherweights on the planet despite not having fought since beating Claudio Marrero in a 12-round WBC eliminator more than a year ago.
Russell, 31, whose only loss came against Lomachenko praised his opponent.
“We put the work in every day in the gym. I’m a perfectionist. We knew we had a very tough opponent and I knew he was gonna bring his physical best. He had everything to gain and nothing to lose. We just focused and showed I’m one of the longest-reigning champions for a reason.”
Defensive Rigondeaux wins vacant WBA 118-pound Title
Guillermo Rigondeaux won the vacant WBA world bantamweight title via 12-round split decision over Panama’s Liborio Solis in Saturday’s co-main event.
The 39-year-old southpaw returned to his defensive ways to outclass Solis in his debut at 118-pounds to win the title in a second weight class.
Two judges scored it 116-111 and 115-112, respectively for Rigondeaux while the third judge scored the fight 115-112 for Solis.
Rigondeaux (20-1, 13 KOs) dropped Solis in the seventh round and hurt him in the tenth to help seal the win. Solis (30-6-1, 14 KOs), while less effective and not landing many shots, was by far the aggressor in this tactical matchup.
Many will recall the unexpected yet fan-friendly slugfest that broke out between Rigondeaux and Julio Ceja at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas last June.
The Cuban came from behind on the scorecards to drop Ceja hard with a left hand in the eighth round before stopping him moments later.
This fight was quite dull by comparison except for the times that Rigondeaux really decided to let his hands go. The first punch that hurt Solis in the seventh was a short left uppercut that knocked him into the ropes. The referee counted it as a knockdown because the ropes held him up.
Solis was hurt for a second time in the bout by a straight left hand in the tenth, which caused him to stumble backwards although he regained his footing and managed to avoid getting hurt again.
Strangely, Rigondeaux would resume his cautious strategy after hurting Solis and this was met by a chorus of boos from the audience. Solis, frustrated by Rigondeaux’s unwillingness to engage, implored Rigondeaux at the end of the sixth round to stand and fight.
The win could put the two-time Olympic gold medalist in the crosshairs of a potential fight with unbeaten Japanese star Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs), who owns the WBA’s “super” championship in the 118-pound division and the IBF crown.
Inoue must first get past the Philippines’ Johnriel Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs) in their April 25th bantamweight championship unification fight to also mark his U.S. debut. Casimero holds the WBO 118-pound crown.
The more conservative approach would certainly help against a murderous puncher like Inoue but we might be getting ahead of ourselves. Overall, Guillermo does what he does best, that is, freezing his opponents and bagging rounds.
He made weight easily and had few problems dissecting Solis, especially with finding a home for the straight left hand. Before Rigondeaux defeated him, Solis had won five consecutive fights, albeit against soft competition.
Despite his advanced age, the former 122-pound champion is a legitimate threat to everyone in the division.
Younger sibling Antuanne Russell (13-0, 13 KOs) scored a sensational knockout over Mexican challenger Jose Marrufo (12-10-2, 1 KO) at just 2:12 into their scheduled eight-round lightweight fight. Murrufo made the grave mistake of going after Russell too aggressively and was flattened by a perfect counter right hook. Russell has now defeated all 13 of his past opponents by knockout.
Earlier Saturday night, another Russell brother, Gary Antonio Russell, beat Jesus Martinez via disqualification. Russell (17-0, 12 KOs) led on all three scorecards 50-45 at the time of the stoppage when the referee disqualified Martinez (27-11, 13 KOs) for repeatedly hitting and holding in the sixth round.
- Jamontay Clark UD Anthony Lenk
- Jonathan Torres UD Edson Eduardo Neri
- Marlon Bolen TKO2 Larry Ventus
- Martino Jules TKO1 Pablo Cupul
- Rajun Chance TKO1 Joseph Quintana