Unbeaten rising star Gary Antuanne Russell held a media workout in his hometown of Capitol Heights, Md. on Monday, as he prepares to take on former two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy in the telecast opener live on SHOWTIME Saturday, July 30 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and is headlined by two-division champion ., as they look to build on the legacy left by their late father Gary Sr., the patriarch of one of the sport’s preeminent fighting families.
Here is what the workout participants had to say Monday from The Enigma Boxing Gym:
GARY ANTUANNE RUSSELL
Photos: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
“I’m up against a fighting style that I believe is similar to Viktor Postol’s. Postol is a little more defensive, but they’re both long and rangy opponents.
“It’s of course a plus that I was able to be the first person to stop Postol. But at our gym and with our family, we don’t magnify fights like these. We pay attention to our credentials, and don’t really worry about what our opponents bring. The way we train, we’re not going to run into styles that we’re not accustomed to.
“With this sport, you have to have diversity in your style. Because you never really know what kind of opponent you’re going to be facing. They might change up their fighting style based on yours. We just strive for excellence and execution.
“In the Postol fight he tried to use his length to keep me at bay. But we executed our game plan. It wasn’t about overanalyzing our opponent, but we saw that we could exploit his flaws. He pulled back a lot and he didn’t want to fight on the inside. We tried to keep ourselves in comfortable positions.
“We train for perfection every day. We know that execution is what wins fights. If our opponent can’t make the necessary adjustments to keep us off them, then that’s on them. This sport is a battle of wits. My will versus your will and my intelligence versus yours.
“My brothers have always been in my corner. We all now are so tunnel-visioned on what’s important. Our motto in the gym is that the ultimate revenge is success.
“If we come out unscathed from July 30, we’ll start working on the next opponent and get another fighter with great credentials in there. We’ll be looking at fighting for the titles. Our goal was to clean out the division. That’s the first goal, then we’ll start moving up to other weight classes eventually.”
GARY RUSSELL JR., Gary Antuanne’s Brother and Trainer
“Our father was not just a magnificent father, but a teacher and a mentor. He molded not just men, but soldiers. He gave us the tools, the skills and the wit to properly maneuver through this jungle that we’re in.
“The biggest thing that our father taught us was versatility. That’s the biggest key with anything you do in life. I’m a great fighter because I’m versatile. A lot of these fighters are just really good at one thing. I don’t want to see someone who’s only good at fighting one style.
“I was always side-by-side working with my father when it came to working with my younger brothers. Even before I was going to fight, if they were on my undercard, I would work their corners as well. I think my father was somewhat always preparing me for this.
“Rances is a great opponent. Whoever wins this fight is getting a big leg up in their career. My brother is looking to take over the division. I don’t think there’s any fighter in the division who he couldn’t beat. He can run through these guys. All he has to do is listen, that’s it.
“Your corner is your last line of defense. As a fellow fighter, I understand that. My brother is still learning to adjust on the fly. He’s learning, but there’s still things left to tweak.
“My father touched so many people in the sport of boxing and played some role in where so many people have gotten in their careers. Whether it’s fighters or coaches, he was never shy about passing along jewels and information.”
Unbeaten Mark Magsayo defeated longtime champion Gary Russell Jr. by majority decision Saturday night to capture the WBC Featherweight World Championship in the SHOWTIME main event from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J. in a Premier Boxing Champions event that was brimming with action from the telecast opener to its conclusion.
“This is my dream come true,” said Magsayo. “Ever since I was a kid, this was my dream. I’m so proud that I’m a champion now. Thank you so much to the Filipino fans for the support.”
A protégé of Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao, Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) was able to end the reign of boxing’s longest male world champion by defeating Russell (31-2, 18 KOs) across 12 hard-fought rounds. Magsayo was able to use his size advantage to lean on Russell throughout the fight and benefited from an apparent injury to Russell’s right shoulder that became discernable in round four.
“I believe I have a torn tendon in my right shoulder,” said Russell. “I haven’t competed in almost two years. This is what true champions do. I wanted to step into the ring and display my superiority regardless of the injury.
“I hurt the shoulder about two weeks ago,” continued Russell. “But I went through with the fight because I’m a true champion and this is what warriors do. I’m going to fight regardless of what the situation is. I refuse to not compete and display my skillsets to my fans and the people that came out to show support and love. Please believe that I will be back. I still want these fights.”
“I knew that he was hurt in round four,” said Magsayo. “I took advantage of it because he was only using one hand. This was my opportunity to follow through. My coach was telling me to use good combinations and follow through. He said this is your chance to become a champion and now I am a champion.”
Russell appeared to injure the shoulder throwing a short right hand and immediately winced in pain and retreated from the action. Russell was able to re-adjust his game plan and had success focusing solely on variations of his left hand. He slowed down the action and landed a number of clean shots to keep Magsayo at bay in a display of ring generalship, but it wasn’t enough to win over the judges.
The Freddie Roach-trained Magsayo was able to land 41% of his power shots in the contest, a significant improvement from the 28% clip that Russell’s previous eight opponents had connected on, according to CompuBox. Russell was limited to just 64 jabs thrown and was out-landed 150 to 69.
Magsayo continued to put the pressure on in the later rounds and was able to ride that activity to victory, including an attack that nearly dropped Russell late in round 10, thrilling the Filipino fans in attendance.
At the end of the 12 rounds, Magsayo edged out the decision on the judges’ cards with a 114-114 score overruled by two judges seeing the bout 115-113 for Magsayo. After the fight, Russell indicated that he believed he still won
the fight, while Magsayo left open the possibility of a rematch.
“I believed in my skillset and what I bring into the ring,” said Russell. “I felt like I still won the fight to be honest. Hell yeah I want a rematch. Would he want a rematch? That’s the question.”
“It’s up to my promotional team,” said Magsayo when asked about a potential rematch. “But I’m willing to fight anybody. I’m the champion now!”
Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. and unbeaten top challenger Mark Magsayo went face-to-face Thursday at the final press conference before they meet in the SHOWTIME main event this Saturday, January 22 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.
Here is what Russell and Magsayo had to say Thursday from the Music Box at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.:
GARY RUSSELL JR.
Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
“At the end of the day, I’m a gladiator and I love what I do. I love showing the skillset that I bring to the sport of boxing. Nothing has come easy for us. This is not unfamiliar territory for me or my family.
“There are no concerns about ring rust. I’m always in the gym. I haven’t taken two months off from training since I was about four or five. Boxing is not just what I do, it’s a lifestyle for me.
“If I go out there and I destroy Mark on Saturday, then the big fights that I want, those fighters won’t be in a rush to face me, not that they are now anyway. I’m always trying to give the same message when I enter the ring. I believe in intellect over athleticism, no matter the situation.
“Mark is actually willing to put it all on the line. He’s going to go out there and give it his best. A lot of other fighters want to hide from the best. But I know Mark wants this badly. It’s a pleasure to share the field of battle with him.
“He said he’s going to show his skills and that’s what I’m looking forward to. I wish other fighters would step up like he did. That’s what the sport of boxing needs.
“I’m competing in the first month of the year, so if we can get through the fight injury-free, we’re going to try to swing back around this summer. I just need a willing opponent. I’m willing to move up in weight, but if I move up, I want to compete against another champion.”
Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
“Gary is a really good fighter. I’ve wanted to fight him for a long time. Now the opportunity is here and I can’t wait for the fight. I’m not expecting any ring rust from Gary Russell.
“I think I’m the fighter who wants to beat him more than anyone else has. I’m here to give him his second loss on Saturday night.
“I can fight and I can adjust. I have speed just like Gary does. On Saturday, we’ll put our skills up against each other.
“Manny Pacquiao is my idol, ever since I was a kid. I started training at eight-years-old because of him to one day become world champion. Now that time is here. I’m so happy that Manny signed me to his promotional company and I’m grateful.
“I learned a lot from the Julio Ceja fight. I showed that I can adjust, that I can brawl and that I can box when I have to. That fight has helped me so much.
“It’s great to have Freddie Roach and Marvin Somodio helping me every day. I thought that I already knew boxing, but when I came to the gym they corrected my mistakes and made me a much more accurate puncher.
“Filipinos are born strong, we are warriors. I’m going to bring that attitude and that mentality into the fight.”
Josh Warrington has today vacated his IBF World Title after the IBF refused to sanction his proposed unification fight in April.
Earlier this month, the proposed mega fight with Xu Can was delayed with a new working date of April 24. Matchroom will now look to finalize that fight or make a giant match up with WBC king Gary Russell Jr.. Both the Can and Russell fights would be for the coveted Ring Magazine belt.
“It’s so important for Josh to be in a mega fight after (Mauricio)Lara on February 13,” said Matchroom Sport Managing Director Eddie Hearn. “He has his heart set on the Ring belt and it’s up to us to make the Can or Russell fights for April or early May. I’ve been working hard with Robert Diaz of Golden Boy to close Xu Can and also had several conversations with Luis De Cubas regarding a Gary Russell bout – both fights are Fight of the Year contenders.”
“It’s disappointing we couldn’t have the IBF Title on the line, but I can’t let those decisions stand in the way of me going down in British boxing history by facing the very best in the division,” said Warrington. “I’ve always dreamt about winning the Ring belt, for me it leaves no doubt who the king of the division is. Right now, my mind and focus is on Lara for February 13 and then I’m looking to pick up that beautiful red and blue belt.”
Eddie Hearn says Gary Russell Jr and Yuriorkis Gamboa are both targets for the return of WBC World Lightweight champion Devin Haney in November, live on DAZN.
Haney (24-0 15 KOs) is raring to return to the ring and defend his crown for the second time after he was forced into surgery when injuring his shoulder in his first defense against Alfredo Santiago in Los Angeles in November.
The 21 year old has fully recovered and November 7 is the date promoter Hearn has earmarked for ‘The Dream’ to display his talents for the first time in 2020, with Russell Jnr and Gamboa the two men vying to take on the Las Vegas star.
Haney and long reigning WBC World Featherweight champion Russell Jnr (31-1 18 KOs) have become embroiled in a war of words on social media over the potential clash, while Gamboa (30-3 18 KOs) is aiming for a third shot at becoming a two-weight World champion – and Hearn expects to name Haney’s foe next week.
“Devin has been doing a great job in keeping his profile active during lockdown but now it’s almost time for get busy in the ring,” said Hearn. “November 7 is the targeted date for his return and the two main targets are Gary Russell Jr and Yuriorkis Gamboa. Both are great fights for Devin as he approaches a key stretch in his career to become standout star.
“Devin is ready to defend his WBC titles against all comers and I can’t wait to see him back in the ring in November.”
There were fouls, multiple point deductions, and knockdowns. But for featherweight Jessie Magdaleno, the win is all that mattered. Magdaleno prevailed over Yenifel Vicente via disqualification in the Top Rank on ESPN main event Thursday evening from the MGM Grand Conference Center — Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas.
Magdaleno scored knockdowns in the first and fifth rounds, while Vicente had three points taken away for low blows in the fourth and another one in the 10th. At 1:38 of the 10th, referee Robert Byrd disqualified Vicente due to repeated low blows.
“He was a rugged fighter,” Magdaleno said. “He was a tough veteran. I tip my hat off to him. He knew what he was doing. His way was to get me low,”
Magdaleno (28-1, 18 KOs) has won three in a row since losing his junior featherweight world title in April 2018.
The 28-year-old Magdaleno now sets his sights on a bigger fight. Magdaleno is now the number one ranked contender for the WBC 126-pound title held by Gary Russell Jr.; he is also ranked fourth by the WBO, whose 126-pound title is held by Shakur Stevenson. After his win over Vicente, Magdaleno had a warning for Russell.
“Gary Russell, I’m coming for you,” he said. “But like I’ve said before, I want any of the champions at 126 pounds. I want to be a two-division world champion. Simple as that.”
Russell is a very skilled fighter and a guy that Magdaleno would have a tough time defeating. The fight probably does not happen because of promotional issues(Russell with PBC; Magdaleno with Top Rank), and it might not happen because Russell could move up to 130 to get a bigger fight with Leo Santa Cruz or Tank Davis.
Regardless of what happens, Magdaleno has put himself in a position to capture another title.
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing
On Saturday night at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, WBC 126-pound champion Gary Russell Jr.(31-1, 18 KOs) continued his winning ways with a unanimous decision over Tugstsogt Nyambayar.
Now, the 31-year-old Russell wants bigger fights, and he is willing to move up to 135 pounds to do it.
After his victory over Nyambayar, Russell expressed his desire to fight Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who made his 135-pound debut in December with a win over Yuriorkis Gamboa in Atlanta. Russell wants the fight and has no problem doing that fight next.
“I’m not gonna say he’s a great fighter,” Russell said about Davis on Saturday night. “I do take my hat off to him because I watched him come up in the amateurs. I’m glad that he had the opportunity to provide a sense of financial stability for his family and friends, and all. But he definitely don’t have the skills it takes to mess with me. That’s the reason why he’s choosing, with his team and Floyd(Mayweather), and everybody else is choosing to keep him away from me.
“They handpick who they wanna fight. I don’t handpick who I fight. I fight whoever says they wanna fight me. Let’s make the fight happen.”
Davis, who is from Baltimore, MD, and Russell, who represents D.C., would sell big in the DMV, and Russell agrees.
“The fight would sell,” Russell said. “We could fight in D.C. Everybody and their mother and their grandmother would come to that fight, so let’s make the fight happen.”
I think this would be a great fight and a fight that would excite a lot of people. Davis brings power, but Russell brings the speed, so this fight could be very compelling Currently, Davis has a legal situation to handle after he was recently charged with simple battery, so who knows how much that would impact him moving forward, but for now, let’s hope they can make this fight happen!
Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. successfully defended his title by winning a unanimous decision over mandatory challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar live on SHOWTIME Saturday night in a Premier Boxing Champions event from PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. Russell won by the scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112
In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING co-main event, 39-year-old Guillermo Rigondeaux moved down in weight to win a world title in a second-division, capturing the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title with a split-decision win against former champion Liborio Solís. Rigondeaux became the oldest boxer to win the world title at 118 pounds. The scores were 116-111 and 115-112 in favor of Rigondeaux with the third judge giving the fight to Solis, 115-112.
Russell (31-1, 18 KOs) made the fifth defense of his 126-pound crown by piling up rounds early, winning the first three frames on all three cards and out landing Nyambayar in the first four rounds according to the PunchStat Report.
“We put the work in every day in the gym,” said Russell. “I’m a perfectionist. We knew we had a very tough opponent and I knew he was going to bring his physical best. 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. 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.”
Nyambayar (11-1, 9 KOs) significantly picked up his punch output in the second half of the fight, but believed that he waited too long for Russell to come to him.
“It wasn’t my night,” said Nyambayar. “He was the better man tonight. I didn’t do my work the way I was supposed to. He is a great champion who fought a great fight. I made a mistake by waiting for him during the fight. I’d love the rematch if I can get it.”
The 31-year-old Russell is part of one of boxing’s premier fighting families as he is trained by his father Gary Sr. and brother Gary Allan. Earlier in the night, Gary Jr. worked the corner for his younger brothers, unbeaten super lightweight Gary Antuanne and undefeated bantamweight Antonio, who both posted convincing victories.For Russell, who has held the WBC 126-pound crown since 2015, he plans to stay sharp in the gym and move up in weight in order to land a fight against another big name.
“We never take a day off,” said Russell. “I’ll probably be back in the gym next week. We’ll keep our wheels turning and stay sharp. If we have to move up in weight for these top fighters to feel like they have an advantage and take the fight, then we’ll do it.”
Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr.(30-1, 18 KOs) is back and set to battle the unbeaten mandatory challenger Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar(11-0, 9 KOs) on Saturday, February 8 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Recently, Russell, who is looking to move up to 130, has openly stated that he wants some of the big names out there, and he reiterated that on Thursday.
“If it were up to me, I’d be facing Leo Santa Cruz or Gervonta Davis, but this is what I have to face,” Russell said at a press conference in Allentown. “I’m here to defend my title in style once again.”
While Russell would love to fight Santa Cruz and Davis, he made it clear that he believes Nyambayar will give him a tough fight on Saturday night.
“Tug will be the best he possibly can be because he knows he’s facing one of the best fighters in the world,” Russell said. “He has everything to gain and nothing to lose. He’s going to leave it all on the line.
“I think Tug is a lot more technically sound than a lot of the guys who I have competed against. He’s another guy with everything to gain and nothing to lose, so I’m anticipating a tough fight.”
Russell thinks he is the total package, and he says he should be on the pound-for-pound list.
“You should expect to see what you always see with me,” he said. “Boxing at its best. A great deal of ring generalship. Good boxing IQ. Hand speed. Punching power. The total package as a fighter. As a matter of fact, I’m trying to figure out why I’m not on the pound for pound list given all of that. That’s an issue.”
Hopefully, if Russell handles his business on Saturday night, he will move up to 130 and go against some the big names out there.
Former world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux will seek to become a three-time, two-division world champion when he moves down to bantamweight to challenge former champion Liborio Solis for the vacant WBA title live on SHOWTIME this Saturday, February 8 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from PPL Center in Allentown, Pa.
“I’m trying to make history by winning a third world title in a second weight class, while also matching my two [Olympic] Gold Medals,” said Rigondeaux, who will fight at bantamweight for the first time in his career. “I want to make a statement and solidify my legacy as one of the best Cuban fighters ever. I want the boxing world to be talking about me, as I seek to become a world champion once again. February 8 will be a special day for me and my family.
“I know at super bantamweight I am a force to be reckoned with. Now that I’m moving down to bantamweight, I feel stronger and I’m getting the most out of my skills. The bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions are filled with great fighters to test myself against. It’s a very exciting time and I am training very hard for each opportunity that is granted to me.”
This will be Rigondeaux’s second straight fight working with the renowned head trainer Ronnie Shields, and conducting training camp at Shields’ gym in Houston.
“Ronnie and I are working very hard and smart,” said Rigondeaux. “We have put together a great game plan that we are going to execute on fight night. All of my tools are getting sharpened up and everyone will see that the hard work we’ve put in will pay off. Ronnie is a great coach and I’ll be fighting with something to prove on fight night.”
“He is very focused, and one of the hardest workers in the gym,” said Shields. “Rigondeaux is so determined to become a world champion once again. He comes to camp every single day with that goal, and I don’t see any way he doesn’t achieve it.”
Rigondeaux is coming off an exciting knockout win over former world champion Julio Ceja last June. The Guantanamo, Cuba native will look to capture his next world title when he faces Solis, a former super flyweight world champion for the vacant WBA belt.
“Solis is a good opponent and a worthy challenger, but I am ready to reclaim my status as a world champion,” said Rigondeaux. “I’m going to show people why I am one of the best boxers of my generation.
“This is a very big deal for me. For years I was one of the best fighters in the world, if not, the best fighter in the world. When you’re a champion, you only fight the top opponents and those are the type of fights I want. I’m going to start another long reign as champion beginning February 8.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Kings Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased through www.pplcenter.com/events (direct link HERE).
Photo: Hosanna Rull/iRULL FOTOS