Joe’s Take: RUSSELL WINS COMFORTABLY BUT WORKS HARD AGAINST NYAMBAYAR

Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing

Gary Russell Jnr 31 (18 KOs)-1 (0 KO)-0 defends his WBC Featherweight title with a 12 round unanimous decision victory against previously undefeated Mongolian Tugstsogt Nyambayar 11 (9 KOs)-1 (0 KOs)-0 at the PPL Centre Pennsylvania this Saturday, broadcasted on Showtime.

Boxing isn’t always the best to watch. Like any sport there are times when you’re checking your phone, huffing and puffing about the lack of action and thinking about what other productive things you could have done with your time rather than watching two men punch each other in the head for half an hour.

This fight was not like that unlike another card on the bill…

It in truth was a bit of a run of the mill affair for Russell in a fight that went pretty much as I expected.

As I said in the pre- fight it did look a bit of a sad case of one fighter just being more athletically gifted than the other as opposed to any major difference in skill. Put it like this after 6 rounds, I gave Russell 6, yep all of them. He did as I thought, planting his feet and waiting for Tug to step in, and when he did he’d slip or step back and beat him to the punch with a straight left, and that’s how it went for 6 rounds.

I didn’t see quite the same spite in the punch from Russell that I saw against Martinez, but I get the sense that he knew that it wasn’t ever going to be a three round fight and so settled himself in for the long haul. Like in many of his other fights however you did see a pretty fast slowdown of Russell’s work.

Russell is really hard to score for two reasons. The first is that he is so fast that you can’t necessarily see if his punches land clean, especially in the exchanges, and the second is that he is so flashy it becomes really easy to end up scoring what looks like scoring blows, but in reality are punches that fall short or come off the gloves.

The slowdown wasn’t critical, and credit should of course be given to Nyambayar for the body work, but I wouldn’t exactly say I was watching a Chavez type body attack over the first 6. I just think that flashy fast counter style that Russell uses cannot hold over the full 12.

No problem, what Russell then does is change it up a bit and start trading on the inside, and for the second half it really was a good fight. I had it 3-3 over the last 6, and as the commentators said you couldn’t really fault Nyambayar for what he did in the fight. He was trying to close down the range, using head movement, a few more feints I think might’ve helped, but he did box very close to his capacity, and if he went up and fought someone like Tank, I wouldn’t complain on the matchup.

But it was that speed over the first 6 that did it for Russell in a fight that showed both why he is feared among the division, but also the flaws that he holds. To me I’d love to see him against Tank Davis.

If I’m honest I’m not totally sure if Gary Russell is with Haymon, I assume he is if he’s fighting on Showtime, and the skills on show between Tank and Russell would be amazing if it ever happened. Tank is in one of those divisions now where he has to fight someone decent, there are just too many good options and Gary Russell Jnr is definitely one of them.

I’ll be listening closely for news.

On the undercard Guillermo Rigondeaux 20 (13 KOs)-1 (1 KO)-0 wins the vacant WBA Bantamweight title with a 12 round split decision against Venezuela’s Liborio Solis 30 (14 KOs)-6 (0 KOs)-1.

This one I’m going to keep nice and short because if watching this was painful enough, I don’t want to spend any more time than I have to writing about it.

Rigondeaux wins a 12 round split decision against Solis, and in my humble opinion should retire from the sport.

Rigondeaux for some time has been among my favourite fighters in boxing. His fight against Donaire is that rare combination of when a schooling is actually exciting to watch. I’m not one of those people who’ll watch a 12- round fight with zero action and then be like “nah you didn’t appreciate the skill” a boring fight is a boring fight. You’d never watch a boring 0-0 draw in football (soccer to you Americans) and be like “you didn’t appreciate the amazing marking of the full backs”, a bad game is a bad game.

Watching a prime Rigondeaux was like watching Spain 2010 football, sorry I don’t watch American sports so I can’t extend my metaphor. What I mean is that, it was like watching people do all the basics so incredibly well, it made it look too easy, and while that isn’t for everyone I always thought Rigondeaux was called boring a little too excessively, especially when you have promoters and broadcasters promoting fighters like Fury and even Santa Cruz.

I say all that to say this, while his fight against Donaire wasn’t boring to me, this fight against Solis really was, and I don’t think that was because Rigo was taking it easy, I just think the snap has gone in the Cuban’s punches, and a prime Rigo would’ve wiped out Solis before 6.

In the first Rigo did what I prayed he wouldn’t in trying to mix it on the inside and got badly buzzed. The next 5 rounds were as boring as the crowd vocalised. It was a toss up of did you like the guy landing nothing and throwing everything or the guy slipping everything and throwing nothing.

I’ve always said that Rigo packs the punch of a puncher without the mentality of one and that was shown in the 7th when he landed a great uppercut on the Venezuelan coming in, and finally Rigo woke up. I know Cuban’s are very happy using their legs for 75% of a round, but at some point you do need to throw and once Rigo kicked himself into gear you could see the class difference in the second half of the fight, with Rigo doing a few pull counters and nice left hands to the body, all with the left of course.

But to me it wasn’t enough, I had Solis winning 114-113 and while I cant really complain with Rigo winning I do think that if he is only scraping past guys like this it should be time to call it quits.

If he does retire he’ll go down as a bit of example of what is wrong with modern boxing in terms of the politics and the money, but he’ll also go down as one of the best defensive fighters ever, and in my opinion of the best of his generation even if he never really got the chance to show it much.

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