WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr and unbeaten mandatory challenger Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar went face-to-face at a final press conference Thursday before they headline action live on SHOWTIME on Saturday, February 8 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
(Photo credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME)
The press conference also featured former champions Guillermo Rigondeaux and Liborio Solis, who battle in the co-main event for the vacant WBA Lightweight Title, plus Jaime Arboleda and Jayson Velez, who compete in a 12-round WBA Super Featherweight Title eliminator to open the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday from the Renaissance Allentown Hotel:
GARY RUSSELL JR.
“We had a great training camp. I have my younger brothers on the card with me and in camp, pushing me every day. We’re ready, focused and hungry.
“Tug will be the best he possibly can be because he knows he’s facing one of the best fighters in the world. He has everything to gain and nothing to lose. He’s going to leave it all on the line.
“I think Tug is a lot more technically sound than a lot of the guys who I have competed against. He’s another guy with everything to gain and nothing to lose, so I’m anticipating a tough fight.
“If it were up to me, I’d be facing Leo Santa Cruz or Gervonta Davis, but this is what I have to face. I’m here to defend my title in style once again.
Russell Jr. vows to put on a boxing display
“It’s amazing to watch my younger brothers and to have them on the same card. I’m excited to work their corners. There’s never been a set of three brothers to become world champions, and I think we’ll do that real soon. They’re both extremely talented and hungry. I expect them to be better than me by the time they’re at this point in their careers.
“I was the first fighter to turn pro on ShoBox, and I went on to win my title on SHOWTIME. The fact that we’re still doing it now speaks wonders. I work great with their team and I’m grateful to be in this position.
“You should expect to see what you always see with me. Boxing at its best. A great deal of ring generalship. Good boxing IQ. Hand speed. Punching power. The total package as a fighter. As a matter of fact, I’m trying to figure out why I’m not on the pound for pound list given all of that. That’s an issue.”
“I’m very excited for this fight. It’s going to be a good fight for the fans. Gary Russell Jr. is a great champion, but watch on Saturday night, when I become the new featherweight world champion.
“I just have to be better than Gary Russell on Saturday night. The past experience won’t matter. If he thinks I’m too inexperienced for this fight, he is going to be in for a surprise Saturday.
“I know that I’m the underdog, but that doesn’t affect me. I don’t care if I’m the favorite or the underdog.
“I’m not worried about any ring rust. I’ve worked so hard in the ring during training camp to make sure I’m the best I’ve ever been.
“Working with Ismael Salas has been very good for me and I think it’s taken me to another level in my career. All of skills, all of my power and speed, it will all be with me on Saturday. I just have to put it together for my best performance.
“I’m very ready for this fight. I want to be the first WBC featherweight champion in history from Mongolia. I’m ready, you just need to watch on Saturday.”
“Bantamweight is my division. I have no issues making that weight. I want to thank my team for getting me prepared and getting me to this position. All that’s left is to fight Saturday night.
“I want to also thank Ronnie Shields for how he has prepared me for this fight. It’s been a great training camp and I can’t wait to step into the ring and become champion again.
“I feel 100% and I believe that bantamweight has always been my best weight. I did well at 122 pounds, so i stayed there. My plan now is to dominate this division.
“Me and Ronnie Shields have great chemistry and worked well together. Ronnie is a great trainer and I’m looking forward to a long run that we’re going to have together.
“I’m going to be phenomenal in the ring. And I’m going to unify 118 pounds just like I did at 122 pounds. I’m excited to get started.
“My strategy will depend on the fight that Solis brings. I’m a veteran in this sport, dating back to the amateurs, so I’m used to seeing so many different styles. I’m to fight the way that gives me the best chance to win.”
“Thank you very much to my team who has backed me and supported me leading up to this fight. I’m very grateful for this opportunity. My opponent has been a great champion and I’m very excited to be here to fight him.
“This is obviously going to be a great fight. I’m a warrior who always comes to fight. He can pick his strategy however he wants. But I just want to get in there and put my skills on display.
I was already a champion in one division and I had a fight taken on the scorecards at bantamweight, or else i would already be a two-division champion.
“Saturday is going to be different than my last fights. Both me and Guillermo give our heart and soul and we’re going to fight until the best man wins. I’m not leaving that ring without a championship.
“I’m going to come with everything on Saturday. I come to fight and I come to win. I’m sure Guillermo is the same. The difference will be my determination to win this fight.
“I don’t think anyone’s weight or which division we fought at in the past will be an advantage. I’m sure he could have always fought at 118. The person with the advantage is who wants it more.”
“I want to thank all the great champions up on this stage and everyone on my team who made this fight happen. This opportunity has been a long time coming and I’ve been preparing hard to make the most out of it.
“On Saturday, I’m very confident that this is going to be a great fight and end in a knockout. I’m prepared and I know that I’m going to win.
“This is a great chance to get one step closer to my dream of becoming a world champion. I know what I have to do and I’ve prepared every day to make sure that I fight my best on Saturday night.
“We have a lot of respect for each other and we’re looking forward to Saturday night. Don’t miss this card because it’s going to be action packed from start to finish.”
“I’m happy to be here again and back in a big fight. My last time fighting on SHOWTIME was in 2012 and I’m very thankful for this opportunity to compete on this stage once again.
“I’m blessed to be able to do what I do every day. I’ve fought professionally since 2007. This is the dream that every boxer has. When I win on Saturday, I’ll be the mandatory for the belt and that’s the opportunity that I want.
“I’ve been training hard for this fight and I’m ready. I’ve won three fights in a row heading into a great fight between two hungry fighters. We want to add each other to our record and I believe that this fight is ending in knockout.
“Don’t miss this fight because this is going to be great. There’s going to be a lot of action. Every time I step into the ring, win or lose, I will leave everything in there. I fight with my heart and I fight for Puerto Rico.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Kings Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased through www.pplcenter.com/