Russell Defeats a Game Nyambayar, Retains World Title

The WBC World Featherweight Champion wins an intense 12-round decision over a tough Nyambayar in the main event Saturday night on SHOWTIME.

They came from all over. Some even from Mongolia to support kinsman Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar Saturday night at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. 

Amid the chants of “King Tug,” and some hyper fans going crazy at ringside, there was one razor-sharp factor that had to be considered: Gary Russell Jr.

The WBC World Featherweight Champion wasn’t exactly going to relinquish his belt that easily.

And he didn’t. Russell (31-1, 18 KOs) successfully defended his title a fifth time, overcoming a stiff challenge from Nyambayar to win a clear, 12-round unanimous decision in a PBC on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing main event. 

All three judges were in agreement. Judge David Bilocerkowec gave Russell 10 of 12 rounds (118-110), while judge Glenn Feldman (116-112) and John McKaie (117-111) also had Russell winning by a comfortable margin.

“We put the work in every day in the gym,” Russell said. “I'm a perfectionist. We knew we had a very tough opponent and I knew he was going to 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.”

Russell established distance early, fought well behind his jab, and never let Nyambayar close for the first half of the fight.

The southpaw’s handspeed was too much for Nyambayar (11-1, 9 KOs). Russell fought well going backward, using a left lead and a steady jab that was in Nyambayar's face for most of the fight.

“The difference was ring generalship, hand speed and boxing IQ,” Russell said. “He only had 11 pro fights, of course he was an Olympic silver medalist, but he only had those 11 pro fights. I've had over 30 and I think my experience was enough to overcome and win this fight.”

Nyambayar, 27, got going in the fifth round, landing uppercuts and shots to Russell’s body. The action heated up over the last half of the bout. Nayambar’s best round was the 10th as he landed more powerpunches, but Russell bounced back in the next round, crowding Nyambayar, whose corner emphatically demanded their fighter continue pressing the 31-year-old from Capitol Heights, Maryland.

Nyambayar tried backing Russell up in the 12th. Russell, with welts under both eyes, held up. But for "King Tug," it may have been a case of putting his foot down too late. Nyambayar went to the body, only to be greeted by Russell smiling back at him.

As the final seconds ticked away, Russell raised his hands in victory.

“It wasn't my night,” Nyambayar admitted. “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.”

Russell says he’s willing to seek a challenge in any division.

 “If we have to move up in weight for these top fighters to feel like they have an advantage and take the fight, then we'll do it,” said the champion. 

Guillermo Rigondeaux outpoints Liborio Solis

Guillermo Rigondeaux overcame some scary moments early on to win a 12-round split decision over Liborio Solis, winning the vacant portion of the WBA World Bantamweight title. 

At the outset, Rigondeaux didn’t look right. This was the former unified 122-pound champion’s first fight at bantamweight (118-pounds). He was rushed by Solis, who landed several good shots. 

By the second round, the 39-year-old southpaw Cuban expatriate had reverted to the style we’d grown accustomed to from him. Rigondeaux stymied Solis with his footwork. He used distance and his defensive guile in lulling Solis into following him, then stunning him on occasion.

One moment came with 2:23 left in the seventh, when Rigondeaux (20-1, 13 KOs) scored the only knockdown of the fight by landing a left uppercut that sent Solis reeling back into the ropes. Referee Benjy Esteves justifiably called it a knockdown, and Solis survived the round.

With 1:23 left in the 10th, Rigondeaux caught Solis (30-6-1, 14 KOs) napping again, plowing him with a barrage of lefts. Solid survived, hanging on but ultimately losing on points. 

Judges Ron McNair (116-111) and Kevin Morgan (115-112) both had it for “The Jackal,” while judge Don Ackerman (115-112) somehow scored it for Solis.

“Like I've showed everyone before, I can fight right in the middle of the ring,” Rigondeaux said. “I tried that in the first round, but after that round, Ronnie Shields told me to show him some boxing and cut the ring off. I'm available for anyone who wants to get in the ring. Who do the fans want to see me fight? I'm ready for any fighter. Now that I'm at my weight, let's go hunting.”

Jaime Arboleda edges Jayson Velez by split decision

Both Jaime Arboleda (16-1, 14 KOs) and Jayson Velez (29-6-1, 21 KOs) predicted that they would win by knockout in their scheduled 12-round WBA junior lightweight title eliminator. Arboleda had a five-fight stoppage streak, while Velez entered the fight winning within the distance in his previous three.

No knockout arrived. But an all-action classic did.

Surviving a 12th-round knockdown, Arboleda edged Velez by a split-decision, winning by 114-113 scores from judges Bernard Bruni and Eric Marlinski, while judge Glenn Feldman had it 115-112 for Velez.

“Jayson Velez is a great fighter and has a great style,” Arboleda said. “He was trying to use that to break me down tonight. Velez has faced a lot of good fighters and I believe I belong with those fighters. I had him hurt badly a few times, but I just got a little bit ahead of myself and didn't finish.”

Each fighter exchanged big blows the first portion of the fight, with Arboleda closing the distance. Velez came out strong, but began wearing down as the rounds progressed.

By the sixth, Arboleda appeared to be getting stronger. His right uppercut, which missed earlier, started to land. A growing lump seemed to be growing on the left side of Velez’s head.

In the ninth, Arboleda landed a left-right combination, but Velez came back to sting Arboleda with a left hook. But that was it for Velez. Arboleda connected for more in the final half of the round.

Arboleda entered the 10th round for the first time in his career. Velez rocked Arboleda with a left hook and a straight right hand, which had him reeling backwards with around 1:40 left in the round. Velez seemed to give himself a chance in that comeback stanza.

Arboleda appeared to find his legs in the 11th. But Velez tagged Arboleda with a right just before the bell.

Arboleda started the final round using his jab. He bounced a quick combination off of Velez’s head. Still, Velez kept coming forward. With slightly over 1:50 left in the round, Arboleda appeared to get knocked down by a left, which referee Eric Dali called a slip.

Then with 1:03 left, Velez did register a knockdown with an overhand right to the jaw, which caught Arboleda off balance and dropped him to the canvas for the third time in his career. 

“It was a clean shot on the knockdown but it happened because I wasn't doing what I was supposed to stylistically and with my footwork,” said Arboleda. “I was a bit tired, but I wasn't too hurt. I went right back to fighting.”

Velez was putting on the pressure, when the final bell saved Arboleda.

“It was a close fight, but I think I won the fight,” Velez said. “It could have gone either way. I think I knocked him down twice but they didn’t count one of them. It’s okay. I showed that I’m a warrior like always. I’m still here, and I believe I’ll be world champion someday.”

***

On the off-TV undercard, bantamweight Gary Antonio Russell (17-0, 13 KOs) won with a sixth-round disqualification at 1:31 over Jesus MartĂ­nez (27-11, 13 KOs) in a scheduled eight-rounder. The disqualification was due to low blows. Junior middleweight Jamontay Clark (15-1-1, 7 KOs) beat Anthony Lenk (16-7, 7 KOs) by eight-round unanimous decision.

A few bouts later, the Russell show continued, when junior welterweight Gary Antuanne Russell (13-0, 13 KOs) remained perfect by stopping Jose Marrufo (12-10-2, 1 KO). Gary Antuanne, Gary Antonio’s younger brother, used a right hook to floor Marrufo at 2:12 of the first round in what was a scheduled 10-rounder.

Welterweight Marlon Bolen (4-0, 3 KOs) stopped Larry Ventus (9-15-1, 4 KOs) at 2:58 of the second round in a scheduled four-round. Super bantamweight Rajon Chance made a successful pro debut with a first-round TKO at 2:41 over Joseph Quintana (0-3) in a scheduled four-rounder.

Bantamweight Jonathan Rodriguez (8-0, 3 KOs) won a six-round unanimous decision over Edson Eduardo Neri (3-5, 2 KOs). In a scheduled four-rounder, super featherweight Martino Jules (9-0, 2 KO) stopped Pablo Cupul (10-31, 5 KOs) at 2:39 of the first round.

For a closer look at Russell vs Nyambayar, check out our fight night page. 

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