Gary Russell Jr.

Gary Russell Jr. Takes Out King Tug To Retain Featherweight Title

Gary Russell Jr.
Amanda Westcott/Showtime

It’s been a long time since Gary Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs) has lost a fight. Five years to be exact. But that fact comes with an asterisk.

Russell Jr. hasn’t fought more than once in a calendar year since 2014. Ironically enough, that was the last time that he tasted defeat. 

Nowadays, Russell Jr. only makes ring appearances when he absolutely has to. 

On February 8, at the PPL Center in Pennsylvania, Russell Jr. placed his WBC Featherweight title on the line against Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9 KOs).

Not much was expected of the fighter nicknamed “King Tug,” but that was only because not many had heard of the man who hails from Mongolia.

Yet, if you did some simple research, you would know that he was an accomplished amateur fighter who took home the Silver medal in the 2012 Olympics. So by all means, he was no push over. 

When the contest kicked off, it was King Tug who pushed the action. Russell Jr. seemed to have a few issues finding his footing as he slipped to the ground in the opening round. Overall, it was a fast pace to start the contest. But as we all know, when it comes to speed, Russell Jr. is second to none. 

The WBC champion began to find his rhythm in the second round, landing several good shots while Nyambayar struggled to keep up. 

For much of the contest, Russell Jr. provided Nyambayar with different looks. At times he would play the role of the aggressor and take the fight directly to his opponent. But on other occasions he would simply sit back and wait while his opponent did his best to land his own shots but often times found himself swinging at air. 

Much like the other opponents that have stood across the ring from Russell Jr., Nyambayar just didn’t have an answer for him. The final scores following 12 fairly easy rounds to judge were 116-112, 117-111 and 118-110 for Russell Jr. 

Who knows when Russell Jr. will be seen in the ring again. He has made it a habit of fighting only once a year. Although he couldn’t provide a timeline as too when he would return to the ring, he did give us a bit of breaking news.

“This was my last fight at Featherweight,” said Russell Jr. following the fight. “I will be vacating my title and moving up two weight classes to 135.” 

Moving up in weight is nothing new in boxing. But it is a bit of a peculiar choice to skip 130 entirely and instead opt for the weight class above it. Well, according to Russell Jr. he is simply tired of languishing around in a weight class where no one wants to fight him, and instead wants to go hunting for the biggest names possible.

“There’s nobody for me to face at 130. There really isn’t any big names there, but at 135 you have a ton of options for me there. Let’s just wait and see which one of these fighters will step up to the plate and fight me.”

Final Grade For Gary Russell Jr.: A

It was another great performance from a great champion. 

Russell Jr. probably won’t receive the credit that he deserves, but he should. Tugstsogt Nyambayar is a real fighter with a lot of promise and Russell Jr. made it look fairly easy. 

Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for Russell Jr. to return to the ring.

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