Two belts will be on the line Saturday night on Showtime as Gary Russell Jr defends his WBC featherweight title against Mongolia’s Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar and Guillermo Rigondeaux faces Liborio Solis for the vacant WBA bantamweight title.
Russell Jr (30-1, 18 KOs) is a very skilled and blindingly fast boxer that faced criticism for his poor opposition early in his career. He stepped up in 2014 when he faced Vasyl Lomachenko and the Ukrainian phenom famously became a world titlist in just his third pro fight. Russell rebounded and took the WBC belt from Jhonny Gonzalez and has defended it 4 times since most notably in 2018 against Joseph Diaz Jr. His skill and speed has established him as one of the top fighters in the division, though he hasn’t really been active enough and against good enough competition to truly stake his claim as the best.
Nyambayar, an Olympic and world silver medalist, will be a step up from the fighters he’s faced in his reign so far, Diaz apart. King Tug turned pro in 2015 and his fan friendly pressuring style and powerful right hand has carried him to a 11-0 record with 9 KOs and he is coming off a win over former interim WBA champion Claudio Marrero. His aggressive style should make for a fun fight, but he needs his jab as a starter for his combinations and the southpaw Russell is an expert at taking it away from orthodox fighters by fencing and pawing with his right hand. Nyambayar’s relentless pressure might bring him success in spots and his power means he’s always dangerous but Russell’s a really tough match up for him. King Tug will make it fun but Russell’s likely to outbox him for a decision or potentially a late stoppage as Nyambayar will go for it and is relatively hittable.
In the co-main event, amateur great Guillermo Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KOs) comes down in weight to attempt to claim the WBA bantamweight belt. Rigondeaux took a year off after quitting on the stool due to a hand injury against Vasyl Lomachenko at super featherweight and came back to a more appropriate weight for him and picked up a couple of KO wins. A defensive master often derided for being content to coast and do just enough to win, Rigondeaux has found himself in more exchanges than usual in his last couple of fights. This may be due to a willingness to trade more and make himself marketable now that his undefeated record is gone but also to not quite having the legs at 39 to stay away as easily anymore. His opponent Liborio Solis (30-5-1, 14 KOs) is no spring chicken himself at 37. He is a former WBA superflyweight champion but that was in 2013 and his best days are far behind. Rigondeaux should pick up a belt in a second weight class and be a great addition to a very interesting bantamweight division.
In the card opener, 25-year-old knockout artist Jaime Arboleda (15-1, 13 KOs) faces his toughest test yet against former title challenger Jayson Velez (29-5-1, 21 KOs) in what should be a fan friendly appetizer to the title doubleheader.
Russell Jr vs Nyambayar airs on Showtime at 9:00pm ET / 6:00pm PT.
Gary Russell Jr. vs. Tugstsogt Nyambayar, for WBC featherweight title
Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Liborio Solis, for WBA “regular” bantamweight title
Jaime Arboleda vs. Jayson Velez