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Gary Russell Jr vs Tugstsogt Nyambayar official for Feb. 8 on Showtime

The expected fight is on, headlining a tripleheader from Pennsylvania.

Deontay Wilder v Dominic Breazeale - Weigh-in Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Showtime have confirmed a previously-reported Feb. 8 card from Allentown, Penn., headlined by Gary Russell Jr defending the WBC featherweight title against Tugstsogt Nyambayar, and featuring Guillermo Rigondeaux moving down to bantamweight for a rescheduled bout with Liborio Solis in the co-feature.

Russell (30-1, 18 KO) has faced a lot of criticism for fighting once per year from 2015-19, and often not facing the caliber of competition people would like to see. He was last out on May 18, predictably dominating veteran Kiko Martinez to retain his title.

Russell, 31, did what he could as far as calling out Leo Santa Cruz or anyone else at 126 and 130, but ultimately what we’re getting here is a good fight and deserves some legitimate anticipation.

Nyambayar (11-0, 9 KO) is not just a mandatory, but a quality featherweight contender for real, a 27-year-old fighter from Mongolia and a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, losing to Cuba’s outstanding Robeisy Ramirez in a terrific gold medal match that year.

“I’m forced to defend my title against another mandatory challenger and I’m going to show on Feb. 8 why none of the other champions want to face me,” said Russell. “I’m the longest current reigning WBC champion but no one has stepped up to the challenge I present. I’m going to take care of business against a strong opponent and display all my skills like I always do.”

“This is going to be an exciting fight for everyone watching on Feb. 8,” said Nyambayar. “Gary Russell Jr is a great champion who is very talented, but he has the WBC belt and that’s what I want. I’m training hard to win this fight and I will be ready for anything that Russell brings to the ring.”

The 39-year-old Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KO) is moving down from 122 pounds, where he’s fought his entire pro career, and facing Solis (30-5-1, 14 KO) for the vacant secondary WBA “world” title. It’s a risky move for the Cuban veteran, but he’s still a really good fighter at the very least. Having seemingly lost his legs a bit more, he’s now more of an action fighter than he’s ever been before, as we saw in his last outing, a phone booth war with Julio Ceja.

Solis, 37, is a Venezuelan based in Panama who has won five straight lower-level fights since a 2016 loss to Jamie McDonnell.

The opening bout on the card will see Panama’s Jaime Arboleda (15-1, 13 KO) take on Jayson Velez (29-5-1, 21 KO) in a WBA 130-pound eliminator. The 25-year-old Arboleda, now living in Miami, has won five straight since being knocked out by Recky Dulay in 2017. Velez, 31, is a former prospect from Puerto Rico. He challenged for a featherweight title in 2014, drawing with Evgeny Gradovich, then lost four straight fights in 2015-16, but has bounced back to go 6-1 since then, his only loss a decision against Ryan Garcia in 2018.

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