It wasn’t pretty but WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs) did enough to defeat 2012 Olympic silver medalist Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night on Showtime Boxing at the PPL Center, Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The scores were 116-112, 117-111 and 118-110. This was Russell’s 5th successful title defense of his WBC 126-lb title he won five years ago in 2015. He wants to fight Leo Santa Cruz now if possible. Russell might keep his WBC title instead of vacating it as he’d spoken about in the weeks before the fight.
Keeping the WBC title would be the smart thing obviously if the heavy handed Nyambayar was able to get the better of Russell Jr. and arguably win 4 to 5 rounds, then you can only imagine would guys like Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia and Luke Campbell would do to him.
Russell, 31, won the fight, but it was easily the hardest fight for him since his loss to Vasily Lomachenko in 2014. The younger fighter Nyambayar, 27, landed a lot of heavy shots that this match a lot more difficult to score than Russell’s previous contests since his loss to Loma.
For boxing fans used to seeing Russell beat up on hapless opponents they’ve never heard of, they suddenly surprised at how hard of a fight he was getting from Nyambayar.
Russell might have lost the fight if Nyambayar hadn’t fought so timidly in the first six rounds. The Mongolian fighter gave away a lot of valuable rounds in the first half of the fight in showing Russell Jr. too much respect.
When Nyambayar finally woke up after the sixth round, he started getting the better of Russell, and showing that he had more than enough talent to match up.
“We knew we had a very tough opponent and I knew he was going to bring his physical best,” said Russell. “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.
“The difference was ring generalship, hand speed and boxing IQ,” said Russell Jr.. “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,” said Russell Jr.
You can attribute Russell’s win on Tugstsogt starting too slow in going on the attack. That’s obviously an experience thing, but it’s unclear whether he’ll learn from the mistake or not. At this level, you cannot afford to start too slowly otherwise you’ll lose every time.
Tugstsogt needed to treat this fight like it was a short amateur fight in which he had to go all out from round 1 to get the win instead of taking his time the way he did in the first six rounds.
Guillermo Rigondeaux defeats Liborio Solis
Making his first fight at bantamweight, former WBA/WBO 122-lb champion Guillermo Rigondeaux 20-1, 13 KO defeated Liborios Solis (30-6-1, 14 KOs) by a 12 round split decision in the co-feature bout to win the vacant WBA World bantamweight title.
The 39-year-old former two-time Olympic gold medalist Rigondeaux knocked Solis down in the 7th, and used his boxing skills to cruise to victory by the scores 116-111 and 115-111 for Rigondeaux, and 115-112 for Solis.
The best round of the fight for Solis was the 1st. That’s when Rigondeaux stood and traded with him. After the round was over, Rigondeaux was told by his trainer Ronnie Shields to box Solis, which is what he did the rest of the fight. Once Rigondeaux boxing Solis in the center of the ring. he dominated him the rest of the way.
“Like I’ve showed everyone before, I can fight right in the middle of the ring,” said Rigondeaux. “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.”
Other boxing results on the card:
Martino Jules TKO 1 Pablo Cupul
Jamontay Clark UD 8 Anthony Lenk
Gary Antuanne Russell TKO 1 Jose Marrufo
Jonathan Rodriguez UD 6 Edson Eduardo Neri
Gary Antonio Russell DQ 6 Jesus Martinez
Rajon Chance TKO 1 Joseph Quintana
Marlon Bolen TKO 2 Larry Ventus