Gary Russell Jr.: ‘Tugstogt Nyambayar is a threat to any of these guys in the upper echelons’
Quick-fisted Gary Russell Jr. will defend his WBC featherweight title for the fifth time when he faces Tugstogt Nyambayar at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Saturday.
Russell, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring at 126 pounds, had hoped to secure a unification bout but had to settle for his mandatory challenger.
“None of the champions are willing to step up and fight me, so I’m forced to fight these younger, hungrier guys,” Russell (30-1, 18 knockouts) told The Ring. “I keep fighting these guys with everything to gain and nothing to lose.
“I think [Nyambayar’s] a good fighter; he’s definitely talented and he’s a 2012 Olympic silver medalist. He’s a threat to any of these guys in the upper echelons right now. He’s got a good right hand, and you have to be prepared for anybody. You have these small eight-ounce gloves on and that’s where defense and discipline come in. I just don’t feel he has enough in his game and [enough] professional experience to deal with me.”
Russell had no problem highlighting Nyambayar’s qualities but is unconcerned about the task ahead.
“I never really focus on my opponents, I just prepare myself to the best of my ability,” he said. “I’m focused, I’m driven, I do this for my family and I’m a product of my environment.
“My speed, my power, my explosiveness, my ring generalship – my overall package – will give him problems.”
The 31-year-old Russell obviously feels that his talent is a blessing but views it as a curse when it comes to enticing the other big names into facing him.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s flattering as well,” explained the speedy southpaw. “The reason I don’t get mentioned in these fights is I bring too much resistance. I bring too much of a challenge to a lot of these guys.
“We get paid based on our ability to produce and they know their chances of producing are very slim when they step in the ring with Mr. Gary Russell Jr. This is the reason why none of the champions are honestly willing to put it on the line. I’m willing to put it on the line.”
Russell had a seven-week training camp in his hometown of Capital Heights, Maryland, training with younger brothers Gary Antuanne (12-0, 12 KOs) and Gary Antonio (16-0, 12 KOs), who will appear on his undercard. He couldn’t be more ready and insists that he will throw down the gauntlet to rival titleholders should he come through against Nyambayar.
“All I can do is show the fans that I am calling these guys out,” Russell said “I am willing to make these fights happen. I would love to fight against these guys that they consider the best. Hopefully the fans can force their hands. You’ve heard me calling out all of these guys, you don’t hear them calling my name out.
“God-willing we get past this guy – we never overlook anyone. If I don’t get a signed contract from Leo Santa Cruz, saying we’ll make the fight happen in a certain timeframe, then I plan on moving up in weight. This will definitely be my last fight at 126.
“I don’t want to fight at 130, I plan on going straight to 135. The only reason I was going to stop at 130 was ‘cause Tevin Farmer said that if he beat (Joseph) ‘JoJo’ Diaz then he wanted to fight me. I’m one of these fighters that will answer the call. Unfortunately, he lost to ‘JoJo’ Diaz, someone I already beat. Now there is no reason to stop at 130.
“I would love Gervonta Davis, a rematch with Vasiliy Lomachenko and I feel the only way to make fights happen is put myself in the same weight division as these guys. Maybe if I move up in weight, they’ll feel they have an advantage cause they’re much bigger. Maybe that’ll encourage them to make the fight happen.”
Nyambayar (11-0, 9 KOs) turned professional in 2015 after a standout amateur career, which saw him claim silver at both the 2009 World Championships and the 2012 London Olympics. The Mongolian has based himself as a pro in Los Angeles. He is coming off a third-round knockout over former world title challenger Oscar Escandon and, more recently, a 12-round unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero.
Russell-Nyambayar will be broadcast live and exclusively on PBC on Showtime.