(Image Credit: Showtime Boxing)
Boxers getting the credit they deserve often proves a very difficult task in the social media age. Case in point, last night in the main event on Showtime, Mr. Gary Russell Jr (31W-1L,18KOs) made the fifth defense of his 126-pound championship belt by soundly defeating a very game mandatory opponent, Tugstsogt Nyambayar.
In the end, all three judges scored it unanimously 118-110, 116-112 and 117-111 for Gary Russell Jr, retaining his WBC Featherweight championship belt. The win makes Russell Jr one of the longest reigning active champs.
This was the type of performance we have been accustomed to with Gary Russell Jr. Incredibly fast hands with a defensive prowess to match. Nyambayar was as game as they come with plenty of his native Mongolia fans in attendance at the PPL Center. (The cheers for Nyambayar midfight were impressive.)
Nyambayar made his intentions known from the onset, not giving a square inch to the smaller Russell Jr. Standing in front of him around the ring. The only drawback from that strategy is finding a home for your arsenal. Russell Jr proved too elusive and quick for Nyambayar. The result was never in doubt nor surprising for Russell Jr.
"It was definitely the kind of fight I expected, I knew I was fighting a tough competitor.,” Russell Jr said post fight. “He had everything to gain and nothing to lose. He brought his physical best, but I feel like my hand speed, my ring generalship, my boxing intellect ultimately won this fight."
- Gary Russell Jr. quote
Nyambayar suffered his first defeat as a pro and is now 11-1 9KOs.
For much of Gary Russell Jrs career, the high profile fights he’s been seeking are as elusive as he is. None of the other champions at 126 lbs have showed any interest in facing the boxing prodigy, be it boxing politics, different promoters, networks whatever the excuses may be. Having a boxer in your same promotional outfit doesn’t guarantee much either. Leo Santa Cruz, also advised by Al Haymon and PBC, has made it obviously clear he has very little interest testing himself against the best. (Side rant: it’s sad Santa Cruz had everything in his way to set up a Hall of Fame career but instead chose a different path. The one of least resistance.)
Joseph “Jo Jo “ Diaz was one of the few who dared challenge Russell Jr in a spirited competitive loss. So far, Vasyl Lomachenko is the only blemish on Gary Russell Jrs record. With the inability to secure fights he desires at featherweight, Russell Jr mentioned the possibility of skipping a division and heading straight to 135lbs. The lightweight division is stacked with champions who might view a size advantage enough of a reason to share the ring with Russell Jr!
For now, the Maryland native enjoys the fruits of his labor. Hopefully we don’t wait another year, as is usually the frequency Russell Jr fights, to see his return. He’s an amazing talent who has drawn the short end of the stick, time and time again.
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