There comes a time in every young fighter’s career when he takes a leap into the unknown against a world-class foe. On Thursday, July 22, unbeaten 22-year-old phenom Gary Russell Jr. will make his move to the next level when he faces former Two-Division World Champion Mauricio Pastrana in the six round main event of the July installment of Golden Boy Promotions and AEG’s “Fight Night Club” at L.A. LIVE’s Club Nokia.
Also featured on the hit boxing series will be a six round bantamweight battle between Montebello’s Nestor Rocha and San Diego’s Benji Garcia, as well as junior welterweight action pitting unbeaten Juan Heraldez (2-0, 2 KO’s) against Atlanta’s John Willoughby (2-3) in a four round bout, and a four round welterweight contest featuring LA junior welterweight prospects Ramon Valadez (1-0) and Oscar Andrade (1-0, 1 KO).
One of only two boxers in history to win both U.S. and National Golden Gloves titles before his 17 birthday, Maryland’s Gary Russell Jr. (10-0, 7 KO’s) compiled an amateur record of 163-10 and seemed poised for a medal in the 2008 Olympics before he was forced from the competition in Beijing due to dehydration. In 2009, fighting comfortably at featherweight, Russell turned pro and has since turned back all of his opponents. This Thursday, he takes on the biggest test of his young career in former World Champion Mauricio Pastrana.
A fighter who entered the world of pro boxing when Gary Russell Jr. was just youngster, veteran Mauricio “Pintoso” Pastrana (35-14-2, 24 KO’s) has the type of skills and savvy in the ring that only come with years of experience. A former Junior Flyweight and Flyweight World Champion who has fought the best from 108 to 122 pounds, Pastrana eagerly awaits his chance to take Russell into deep water to see if he can swim. Russell vs. Pastrana replaces the originally scheduled main event which was to feature Jose Navarro, but had to be cancelled due to opponent issues.
In his first fight since a challenge for the WBC Bantamweight World Title last July, 27-year-old Nestor Rocha (21-2, 7 KO’s) expects to get back to the form that saw him win four of his last five bouts while sailing to the top of the bantamweight rankings. Standing in his way will be granite-chinned Benji Garcia (14-15-3, 1 KO), the type of fighter no one wants to see on fight night, leading fans to believe that a Fight of the Year-quality match is on tap this week at Club Nokia.
In additional undercard action, San Diego welterweight Angel Estrada (4-0-1, 2 KO’s) squares off against tough Texan Raul Tovar (7-3-1, 3 KO’s) in a six round fight and local amateurs will also step into the ring, as Jose Iguinega takes on Xavier Montelongo, and Gerardo Hernandez battles Rogelio Ramirez.
The fights will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Net (FSN) and its regional sports network affiliates (check local listings) and streamed live online at www.ustream.com and www.RingTV.com at 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. PT and the first bell rings at 7:00 p.m. PT. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 online at http://www.ticketmaster.comor through any Ticketmaster outlet or the STAPLES Center box office. Group tickets and full series tickets at a discounted rate are also available by calling 1-877-AEG TICKETS (1-877-234-8425).