Boxing Insider Notebook: Killic, Russell, Nyambayar, Ortiz, and more…


Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 31st to January 7th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.

Gary Russell Jr. to Defend His Title Against Unbeaten Mandatory Challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar on February 8th

WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. will defend his 126-pound crown against unbeaten mandatory challenger Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar Saturday, February 8 live on SHOWTIME from PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event. 

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will see former world champions Guillermo Rigondeaux and Liborio Solís battle for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title in the co-main event. The telecast opens with Jaime Arboleda meeting Jayson Veléz in a 12-round bout WBA Super Featherweight Title eliminator.

The main event showdown will see Russell make the fifth defense of his title as he looks to again display the skills and speed that have made him one of the elite featherweight fighters in the world. He will be challenged by the 2012 Olympic silver medalist “King Tug”, who quickly rose up the rankings facing quality opposition throughout his 11-fight career.

“Gary Russell Jr. has proven himself to be at the very elite level of this sport and one of the best fighters in the featherweight division,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “His speed, power and overall skillset has made him a must-watch every time he steps into that ring. He’s going to get all he can handle from an undefeated fighter in ‘King Tug’ Nyambayar, who has the pedigree and power to make this a memorable fight. You won’t want to blink during this high octane showdown February 8 on SHOWTIME from PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.”

“The February 8 card is co-headlined by two of the most skilled boxers in the sport today,” said Stephen Espinoza, President Sports & Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc.  “Gary Russell Jr. – arguably the fastest hands in boxing – will be facing his toughest challenge as world champion against the aggressive power-puncher ‘King Tug’.  And in the co-main event, Guillermo Rigondeaux, one of the best boxers on the planet since his days as an amateur in Cuba, moves down in weight to the bantamweight division for the first time in his pro career as he faces former world champion Liborio Solis with a world title at stake.  Add in a compelling super featherweight eliminator and we have the makings of an action-packed tripleheader on 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 ).

The Capitol Heights, Maryland native Russell (30-1, 18 KOs) has held his WBC Featherweight Title since 2015 when he stopped multiple division champion Jhonny Gonzalez to emphatically capture the belt. The 31-year-old is part of one of boxing’s premier fighting families as he is trained by his father Gary Sr., and trains alongside his younger brothers, unbeaten super lightweight Gary Antuanne and undefeated bantamweight Antonio. Russell most recently stopped former champion Kiko Martinez in May on SHOWTIME after previously defeating then unbeaten challenger Joseph Diaz Jr in 2018 in a hometown defense.

“I’m forced to defend my title against another mandatory challenger and I’m going to show on February 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.”

The 27-year-old Nyambayar (11-0, 9 KOs) represented his native Mongolia in the 2012 Olympics but now lives in the U.S. and is training out of Las Vegas. Nyambayar ascended up the featherweight rankings after his extensive amateur career with victories over then unbeaten Harmonito Dela Torre and former interim champion Oscar Escandon. Most recently he won his first 12-round decision by defeating former champion Claudio Marrero in January.

“This is going to be an exciting fight for everyone watching on February 8,” said Nyambayar. “Gary Russell Jr. is a great championwho 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.”

Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KOs) will look to move down and capture a title in a second weight class in his SHOWTIME debut.  Since turning professional in 2009 after one of the best amateur careers in history, Rigondeaux has showcased masterful technical skills that made him a unified 122-pound world champion and perennial member of the pound-for-pound list. A two-time Olympic gold medalist for his native Cuba, Rigondeaux made his name with victories over the likes of Nonito Donaire, Rico Ramos and Joseph Agbeko. Most recently, Rigondeaux scored an exciting eighth-round stoppage of former champion Julio Ceja in June.

Born in Venezuela and fighting out of Panama, Solís (30-5-1, 14 KOs) will make his U.S. debut on February 8 while riding a five-fight winning streak. Solís captured a super flyweight world title in 2013 amidst a 14-bout unbeaten run. He has lost by decision in his two previous attempts at 118-pound title, including a controversial loss to Jamie McDonnell, which he has bounced back from on his current win streak.

Arboleda (15-1, 13 KOs) has ripped off five straight victories by stoppage since he suffered the only loss of his career against ReckyDulay in 2017. The 25-year-old Arboleda from Curundu, Panama will be fighting in the U.S. for the third time in his career. He’s coming off a knockout victory over Victor Betancourt on August 24.

The 31-year-old Veléz (29-5-1, 21 KOs) has strung together three straight knockout victories since losing to Ryan Garcia in 2018. The Juncos, Puerto Rico resident is coming off a knockout victory over Hector Ruben Ambriz Suarez on July 27 and is looking for another championship opportunity. He came up short in his previous attempt when he fought to a draw against Evgeny Gradovich for the featherweight world title in 2014.

Undefeated Lightweight Prospect Jamaine “The Technician” Ortiz Hammering His Way to Medical School

Undefeated World Boxing Council (WBC) Youth World lightweight champion Jamaine “The Technician” Ortiz (12-0, 6 KOs) isn’t a typical professional boxer whose life entirely revolves in and around the “Sweet Science.”

The 23-year-old Ortiz is also a licensed carpenter with diverse interests ranging from engineering and psychology to philosophy, and his ultimate post-boxing career aspiration is to attend medical school. First, though, Ortiz’ goal is to become world champion, which would be a first for a native of Worcester, Massachusetts.  

“I was always fascinated by architecture, starting with my mother’s house, and that spun off to engineering,” Ortiz explained. “I wanted to learn how to build to better understand and became a carpenter after graduating from high school. I’m not worried about getting hurt at work. I do work with my hands, but I’m in the union and everything is safe, and I’m very careful.  

“Medical school is my dream. I want to help people working with cells, blood and muscle tissues, understanding the body. I’m not sure if I’ll do research or be working with patients, maybe in internal medicine, but not in traditional medicine.   I’m interested in natural, holistic medicine, and working for the benefit of people.”

Ortiz, who started boxing at the age of six, will return to the ring in early 2020 for, most likely, his final WBC Youth World title fight, because this title is for fighters 23 or younger, and Jamaine turns 24 on April 28.   

The WBC World Youth title has been a stepping-stone for great champions such as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Timothy Bradley, Danny Garcia and Leo Santa Cruz, among the more notables.

“I’m proud to be the WBC World lightweight champion, but I’ll have to give it up in April when I turn 24.,” Ortiz remarked. “I’ll win bigger titles as I get older. This has been good for now, but I’m going on to bigger and better things. I’m confident that I’ll be world champion in 2021 and I want to be a multiple wight-class world champion before I retire.”

Ortiz recently gained even more confidence when Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) captured the International Boxing Federation (IBF) World lightweight championship, knocking out defending champion Richard Commey in the second round this past December.

At the 2015 National Golden Gloves, Ortiz lost a decision to Lopez in the championship final. “He didn’t do that stuff to me (like he did to Commey),” Ortiz noted. “He didn’t beat me up. I lost a decision, but I showed that I could fight with him. He was nothing like you saw on television (vs. Commey), though. I’ve watched him get better and better.

So is Ortiz and before he swaps his boxing gloves for a stethoscope, he has unfinished business in boxing. Nothing short of capturing a world championship crown will satisfy “The Technician.”

Joey Spencer to Battle Erik Spring in FOX PBC Fight Night Action on January 18th

Top super welterweight prospect Joey Spencer will enter the ring to take on Erik Spring in a six-round showdown that opens up the FOX PBC Fight Night broadcast and on FOX Deportes Saturday, January 18 from Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.

FOX PBC Fight Night begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and is headlined by unified 154-pound champion and Philadelphia-native Julian “J-Rock” Williams making a homecoming defense against hard-hitting contender Jeison Rosario. The co-main event will feature undefeated rising star Chris “Prime Time” Colbert taking on former champion Jezreel Corrales for the Interim WBA Super Featherweight Title.

Preceding the main card on FOX, FOX PBC Fight Night Prelims on FS1 and FOX Deportes begin at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT and feature a 10-round super welterweight attraction between Mexico’s Jorge Cota (29-4, 26 KOs)and New Jersey’s Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna (28-2-1, 10 KOs). Plus, sensational 17-year-old prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr. (3-0, 3 KOs) steps in for a four round welterweight bout against West Virginia’s Preston Wilson (6-3-1, 4 KOs), while Puerto Rican prospect Romuel Cruz (3-0-1, 1 KO) competes in a four-round super bantamweight fight against Wisconsin’s Julio Garcia (3-3, 2 KOs) in the opener.

Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at http://www.liacourascenter.com/events (direct link HERE) or by calling 800-298-4200.

The 19-year-old Spencer (9-0, 7 KOs) has made fast strides since turning pro in February 2018, including four victories on his 2019 campaign. Representing his hometown of Linden, Michigan, Spencer most recently stopped Travis Gambardella on FS1 in September after defeating Akeem Black on FOX in June. He will kick off 2020 against the 35-year-old Spring (13-3-2, 1 KO), who fought three times in 2019, winning twice. The Reading, Pennsylvania native dropped a decision to Courtney Pennington last time out but has won five of his last seven bouts.

The non-televised undercard will also feature Delaware-native Kyrone Davis (14-5, 2 KOs) in an eight-round middleweight fight against Atlanta’s Antonio Todd (7-2, 4 KOs), Philadelphia native Paul Kroll (6-0, 5 KOs) battling another Philadelphia native in Marcel Rivers (7-2, 4 KOs) for a six-round super welterweight affair, and super featherweight Ricky Lopez (21-4-1, 6 KOs) from Colorado Springs taking on Chicago’s Jose Luis Gallegos (18-8, 14 KOs) in a contest scheduled for 10 rounds.

Rounding out the action is Paterson, New Jersey’s Norman Neely looking to remain unbeaten against Georgia’s Larry Knight in a four-round heavyweight bout, Puerto Rico’s Luis Del Valle in an eight-round super lightweight duel and the pro debut of Philadelphia’s Miguel Angel Roman Jr. in a four-round featherweight affair.

Undefeated Super Middleweight Cem Kilic Ready for Undefeated Steven Nelson in Atlantic City

This Saturday night at The Hard Rock Hotel Atlantic City, undefeated super middleweight contender Cem Kilic will be looking to make a big statement as well as positioning himself for a world title shot when he takes on undefeated Steven Nelson in the co-feature bout of an ESPN televised card.

The bout was originally scheduled for December 14th in Madison Square Garden, but was moved to Saturday, where the fight will receive more exposure being shown live on ESPN.

Kilic of Neustadt Hessen, Germany of Turkish decent, and now calls Sherman Oaks, California, has a record of 14-0 with nine knockouts.

That record includes wins over two undefeated foes in JerhedFenderson and DeAndre Ware.

In his last bout, Kilic, 25 years-old, stopped tough Martez McGregor in the eighth round of their June 15th bout in Las Vegas.

Kilic, who is ranked number-seven by the WBA has been training in Vero Beach, Florida under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt.

“I have had a great training camp with my Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt in Vero Beach, Florida, and I feel really strong and sharp heading into fight week. This fight means so much to me, as I know my talents will be on display, and that a big win in front of a large audience on ESPN will take my career to the next level. I would like to thank my manager Shane Shapiro for all his belief in me and Top Rank and ESPN for giving me this opportunity to properly introduce myself to the US audience,” said Cem Kilic

“Cem is doing very well.  Everything is going good and we just waiting until next week.  The fight being put off was a blessing.  It gave us more time to do what we need to do to win this fight,” said McGirt.

“This is the life changing opportunity Cem, and I spoke about when he first agreed to move here from Germany 6 years ago. Next Saturday, on January 11th, all of the American audience watching will see Cem Kilic’s hard core aggressive style of boxing combined with Buddy McGirt’s teaching of textbook boxing! I want to thank Bob Arum and Brad Goodman for the opportunity and their committed dedication to bringing boxing back to network television. I can’t wait for Saturday night,” said Kilic’ manager Shane Shapiro of No Limit Mindset LLC.

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