Strictly Business Boxing
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Gary Russell Jr. / Mark Magsayo Virtual Press Conference!

(January 11th) WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. and top contender and WBC mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo previewed their world title showdown during a virtual press conference Tuesday before they headline action live on SHOWTIME Saturday, January 22 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.


The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING®  telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will see super lightweight contenders Subriel Matías and Petros Ananyan meet for a rematch in the 12-round co-main event, while hard-hitting featherweight Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar and Vic Pasillas square off in the 10-round telecast opener.


Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased through


Russell, who owns the longest reign of any current male champion and has held his 126-pound belt since 2015, will look to make his sixth consecutive successful title defense on January 22, when he takes on the Filipino power-puncher Magsayo, who is trained by Freddie Roach and comes in off of a Knockout of the Year contender over former champion Julio Ceja last August.


Here is what the fighters had to say:

Gary Russell Jr.: “I use everything going on with me outside of the ring as fuel. It’s been very difficult dealing with the passing of my brother and my dad’s health issues. I tell people all the time that life is like boxing. You have to keep your chin down and hands up. I’m grateful that I’m mentally strong when it comes to stuff like this. This is what champions do, we overcome adversity.


“I’ve been willing to compete against whoever, whenever and wherever. But I can’t force these guys to get in the ring and fight me. I just have to prepare to the best of my ability. I need a dance partner.


“I see him as a good even-handed puncher, maybe he leans a little more to the right hand. He has good punching power, but none of that matters if you can’t hit your target.


“We’re grinding in training camp. No matter what, we’re not going to make any excuses or complaints.


“If I’m going to move up in weight, I want to fight the champion. I’m not planning to move up in weight just to stand in line. I’m fighting Magsayo because he moved up the rankings and earned this spot. Everyone who I’ve competed against has been the next best guy under the champion.


“I don’t have any concerns with Magsayo’s power. You very seldom see me have to come back on the scorecards. Magsayo had to come back in his last fight because he was losing on the cards. That shows some holes in his armor.


“I never overlook anybody. Of course I want the Gervonta Davis fight. But I’m focused on Magsayo. He’s the one who worked his way into this position to fight me. Davis is in no rush, so I’m going to remain focused on a true warrior who’s getting into the ring with me.


“I stay in the gym. Boxing is not just what I do, it’s a lifestyle for me. Even when I’m over and done with my career, I’m still going to be in the gym. I never really blow up and get big in weight. I love what I do and I’m very militant in my mindset.


“No one can really prepare for me. You can’t prepare like you think you can. I know Magsayo will be at his physical and mental best. I take my hat off to him, because he’s willing to put it on the line to prove he’s the best. I wish other fighters would take that same risk.


“A lot of these other guys aren’t willing to step in there with me because of the skillset that I bring. Finally, we have another fighter with some heart who’s willing to fight. I want him to bring his best, so we’ll see whose best is best.”


 Mark Magsayo: “I’m very thankful to my whole team for making this fight happen. I’ve been training for three and a half months now, so I’m going to be well prepared for this fight.


“I don’t think Gary has faced anyone since he became champion that has the skills that I have. I’m going to go in there to show him something he’s never seen before and we’ll see how he reacts.


“I learned a lot from the Ceja fight. That gave me a lesson on how to adjust in the middle of a fight. It’s going to help me against Russell.


“I respect Gary Russell Jr., he’s a great champion, but I’m winning this fight on January 22. I want to prove to the people everywhere that I’m the best featherweight in the world.


“I’m going to show the world that I’m the best at this weight. This is the fight that I’ve wanted for a long time. I’ve been waiting patiently for my chance and I’m ready to do my best.


“I’ve had great sparring partners to prepare me for Russell and give me the same looks that he’ll give me on fight night. This is my first world title fight and I’m going to give it my all.


“I’m not trying to be the next Manny Pacquiao, but I’m trying to put my own mark on the history of this sport and for all Filipinos. I’m hungry to prove it all in the ring.


“I’m going to be the stronger fighter against Russell. We trained every day with Freddie Roach and we’ve worked on a lot of different techniques we’ll use in this fight.


“I know he’s going to bring his talent into the ring, but I’m going to show everybody that I can deliver a great fight and become champion.”


About the Premier Boxing Champions Series

Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), was created for television by Haymon Sports, LLC, in January 2015.  PBC is a boxing series that returns the sweet science to its rightful place atop the sports pantheon.


Featuring today’s best and brightest stars in their toughest, most anticipated bouts, Premier Boxing Champions is broadcast live and free to air on SHOWTIME, FOX, FOX Sports 1, FOX Deportes, Bounce and ITV.


PBC takes boxing back to its roots. This is boxing, pure and simple, where what’s brought to the fight, mentally and physically, is what determines who goes home the winner, and who just goes home.


Bouts featured within the PBC Series are promoted by licensed promoters, with each bout in accordance with applicable regulatory rules and regulations.

WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr.

To Defend Title Against Top Contender Mark Magsayo

Live On SHOWTIME Saturday, January 22nd

In a Premier Boxing Champions Event

From Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Atlantic City, N.J.!

(December 22nd) WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. will defend his world title and display his blistering hand speed against top contender and WBC mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo headlining action live on SHOWTIME Saturday, January 22 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.


The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® tripleheader begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features a 12-round rematch between super lightweight contenders Subriel Matias and Petros Ananyan in the co-main event, plus hard-hitting featherweights Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Vic Pasillas squaring-off in the 10-round telecast opener.


“Gary Russell Jr. has been a force in the featherweight division for years with his dazzling skills and will again defend his title against a hungry and powerful up-and-coming opponent when he duels Mark Magsayo live on SHOWTIME on Saturday, January 22,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Magsayo earned this fight with an impressive 10th-round knockout of Julio Ceja in August and he will be looking to show that he’s the future of the 126-pound division, by knocking off the long-reigning featherweight king in Russell, who has proven worthy of his top spot with his five successful title defenses. Combined with two all-action undercard showdowns, this shapes up to be an electric night of boxing in Atlantic City.”


The Capitol Heights, Md., native Russell (31-1, 18 KOs) has held his WBC Featherweight Title since 2015 when he stopped multiple division champion Jhonny Gonzalez to emphatically capture the belt. The 33-year-old is part of one of boxing’s premier fighting families as he is trained by his father Gary Sr., and stays sharp alongside his younger brothers, unbeaten super lightweight Gary Antuanne and undefeated bantamweight Antonio. Russell owns victories over current featherweight titleholder Kiko Martinez via TKO in 2019 and a unanimous decision over former world champion Joseph Diaz Jr. in 2018. Most recently, Russell outpointed the previously unbeaten Tugstsogt Nyambayar on his way to his fifth title defense in February 2020.


“I’m ready and I’ve been waiting to display my talents and get back in the ring,” said Russell. “My opponent is one of Manny Pacquiao’s fighters, who is a legend in the sport and I’m pretty sure has a good eye for talent. I’m sure he signed Magsayo for a reason. I know that I’m facing a guy who’s willing to put it all on the line, with everything to gain and nothing to lose.”


The Filipino sensation Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOs) fights out of Pasig City, Metro Manila and most recently scored a career-best victory in August knocking out former champion Julio Ceja in the 10th round of a fight he trailed on the scorecards. The 26-year-old fights in the U.S. for the sixth time on January 22 as he steps into his first shot at championship gold. Magsayo is trained by Freddie Roach in Southern California and owns 12-round decision victories over Shoto Hayashi and Jose Robles Olvera, in addition to a sixth-round stoppage of former title challenger Chris Avalos.


“I am very grateful for this opportunity to fight on SHOWTIME for the WBC world title,” said Magsayo. “This is the fight that I want and have been working hard to get for years. I am going to come to win and to make the most of this chance. There is a reason Gary is a champion, just like there is a reason I became the mandatory challenger. This is going to be a great fight for me to show the world what Filipinos are made of. I’ve had a long road to get to this position and I will be fighting in honor of everyone who helped me get here.”


Matias (17-1, 17 KOs) will look to avenge his only career loss, which came by narrow decision to Ananyan in 2020, when he enters the ring on January 22. Fighting out of his native Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Matias has rebounded from the defeat to score back-to-back impressive victories on SHOWTIME. He stopped the previously unbeaten Malik Hawkins in October 2020 in the sixth round and forced the previously unbeaten Batyrzhan Jukembayev to quit after eight rounds in their May clash. Matias stopped his first 15 opponents inside of the distance and has still yet to go to a decision in a victory.


“Everyone who knows me knows how much I wanted this rematch,” said Matias. “I’m very excited that I’m now getting that opportunity. That defeat slowed me down, but it was necessary for me to get to where I ultimately want to be. If I don’t beat Ananyan in this rematch, then I don’t deserve to be champion yet.”


The 33-year-old, Ananyan (16-2-2, 7 KOs) made his U.S. debut in December 2019, losing a narrow majority decision against Kareem Martin after defeating Arkadi Harutyunyan in April 2019. Born in Abovyan, Armenia and training in Southern California, Ananyan was unbeaten in his first 15 fights after turning pro in 2015. Ananyan followed up his career-best triumph over Matias by defeating Daniel Gonzalez in October via decision to set up this rematch on January 22.


"I am grateful to my team for getting me this opportunity to showcase my skills on national television and to prove that my victory over Subriel Matias last year was no fluke,” said Ananyan. “Like our first fight, the rematch will be a barnburner. I am back training in the United States, getting great sparring in camp and I feel very confident. Come January 22, I will defeat Matias once again."


Nyambayar (12-2, 9 KOs) won a silver medal representing his native Mongolia in the 2012 Olympics and now lives in Southern California, where he’s trained by John Pullman. The 29-year-old ascended the featherweight rankings after his extensive amateur career with victories over then unbeaten Harmonito Dela Torre and former interim champion Oscar Escandon. He earned his first world title shot when he defeated former champion Claudio Marrero in January 2019, before dropping his championship bout against Russell on SHOWTIME. Nyambayar returns to the featherweight division after challenging top 130-pounder Chris Colbert in a July contest he lost by decision.


“This is a great opportunity for me on January 22,” said Nyambayar. “I am grateful and excited to get back into the ring. This is going to be a great show from top to bottom, and I’m looking to deliver another great fight for the fans. This is going to be a battle from the first bell and I am confident I will come out victorious.”


Pasillas (16-1, 8 KOs), who hails from East Los Angeles, will return to action looking to bounce back from his first career defeat at the hands of Ra’eese Aleem in January on SHOWTIME. Pasillas will move back to featherweight on January 22, where he most recently scored a dominating sixth-round knockout over then-unbeaten Ranfis Javier Encarnacion in September 2020. Pasillas possesses impressive power and was riding a six-fight knockout streak into the bout with Aleem.


“I have redemption on my mind and I’m ready to bounce back with a stellar performance when I step in the ring with Nyambayar,” said Pasillas. “My best performances have been at featherweight and I am much stronger at this weight. I’m grateful to my team for providing me with this opportunity. Everyone will see the difference in this fight. I’m hungrier and stronger now than ever before.”

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