By: Sean Crose
Showtime and the PBC returned to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on Saturday to air one of the more oddly arrived at cards cards in recent memory. Nonito Donaire was supposed battle against Nordine Oubaali in the main event. But Oubaali was infected by Covid, so in came Emmanuel Rodriguez. Then Donaire was infected by Covid, so in stepped Reymart Gaballo. And so Saturday’s card was headlined by Rodriguez and Gaballo rather than Donaire and Oubaali. Both Rodriguez and Caballo had impressive records, however and made for a good matchup on paper.
First off, undefeated bantamweight Gary Antonio Russell entered the ring with a 17-0 record to square off against the 21-4 vet Juan Carlos Payano in a scheduled 10 rounder. Russell spent the early portion of the fight trying to maintain range while Payano tried to apply pressure. As things wore on, the fight took on the look of a Jack Johnson era throwdown, with lots of holding and battling in close. The bout was stopped before the seventh round as the result of a headbutt, which may have been good news for Payano, as he had gotten rocked at the end of the sixth by Russell.
Needless to say, Russell walked out of the ring with a technical decision win.