Story: Robert Uzzell
Gary Russell Jr
|Record:||27-1, 16 KO||25-2, 17 KO|
|Height:||5’4 1/2″||5’1 1/2″|
|Capitol Heights, Maryland||
Russell Jr’s Strengths: Exceptional hand speed is the first thing that comes to mind. He punches in combinations and has some of the fastest hands in boxing. He’s very explosive and has good punching power. He can counter well with either hand, and maintains a fast pace consistently.
Escandon’s Strengths: He has power in both hands and knows how to cut off the ring when stalking the opponent. He has a very good uppercut and can use the entire ring to his advantage, if necessary. Unlike many Columbian fighters, he’s well-travelled enough not to be thrown by the DMV crowd that’ll be there rooting for Russell, Jr. As short as Escandon is, I believe he has the reach advantage over Russell.
Russell Jr’s weaknesses: Gary sometimes stands to trade when he should be giving angles and range. Gary also uses the same cadence with his output, instead of mixing it up. His footwork is decent, but not the best. Sometimes Gary leaves himself open for counter, even though his hands are so fast, it’ll take a great counterpuncher to connect with something big. Inactivity is an issue with Gary.
Escandon’s weaknesses: Oscar doesn’t have the fastest hands in the world. When he does use hand-speed, he punches too wide. Oscar is also only 5 foot 1, so height is a challenge for him. Sometimes his punch carries late in fights, but in others it seems to fade much earlier. He doesn’t smoothly transfer from defense to offense.
The Pick: I think this fight is going to be action packed. It will be a tale of two game plans. I think Ruben Guerrero’s plan is for Oscar Escandon to attack Gary Russell Jr. I think Gary Russell Jr’s plan is to knock Escandon out.
Escandon has fought southpaws before, so this isn’t new to him. He got a gift victory over southpaw Tyson Cave. He also scored a KO victory of lefty Julian Aristule. A big win for him, on the road against another southpaw, was a KO over Jesus Cuellar. He also most recently stopped Robinson Castellanos, who upset Yuriorkis Gamboa on May 5.
I think Guerrero is training Escandon to attack in this fight. Much like he trained his son Robert Guerrero to press Andre Berto. He’s going to come forward and make it a rough fight for Russell Jr.
During the media workout last week, I noticed Gary Russell Jr working his upper body a lot. I think he’s going for strength so he can be able to handle Oscar *and future opponents) on the inside. I also think he’s building his body like that because he’s going for the knockout in this fight. Yes’ you’ll see the usual flash, but I think the plan is to sit down on his shots and put something behind them.
Somebody’s plan will fail. If Escandon comes in hard and gets picked off by Russell’s hand speed, it could get ugly. One thing Russell does is make a guy with a high punch output lower his output. That’s because his fast hands puts guys on the defensive and if they aren’t skilled enough to switch back to offense fast enough, the punches overwhelm them.
If Russell focuses on the knockout, it could play into Escandon’s hands. If he is unable to get Oscar out, he may fall victim to Oscar’s sneaky right hands and short left shots that seem to either buzz or knock out the best opponents on his resume.
Escandon is not the typical slow guy who is going to get busted up and take too many shots and be a bloody mess by the 4th round. He’s coming to National Harbor to win.
I think it’ll be an action fight and I believe it’ll be a rough one too. Action because Oscar is going to push the action. Action because it’ll force Gary to be active.
The main reason it’ll be a rough and action battle is because each fighter will use the game plan that the other should use. Russell should use his offense and attack with hand speed and try to overwhelm Escandon at range with speed boxing. Escandon should hold his grounds and be attempt to counter and try to get the KO.
Instead, both teams go in with higher risk strategies.
I believe eventually Russell will start to counter the hard charging Escandon and Oscar will wear down. Russell may catch Oscar and drop him, but I think Gary will win a decision instead.
I like Russell by decision in an action fight.
I’ll take Gervonta Davis (17-0, 16 KOs) by late corner stoppage over Liam Walsh (21-0, 14 KOs). Walsh is an okay fighter, but I think Tank overwhelms him and the corner will graciously stop it.
Jose Uzcategui (26-1, 22 KOs) takes on Andre Dirrell (25-2, 16 KOs) for the rights to be mandatory challenger to James DeGale. Jose is slow but he is punching! Think Kelly Pavlik. Hand speed isn’t there but if he catches you, it’s lights out. See here:
This could be Andre Dirrell’s last chance. Will the pressure get to him? He is too talented to have never been a world champion. I think Dirrell survives a scare and holds on for a win. I’ll take his speed and experience to carry him.
Rances Barthelemy (25-0, 13 KOs) faces Kiryl Relikh (21-1, 19 KOs) in a WBA eliminator. Relikh stopped 12 straight before losing a decision to Ricky Burns. I like Barthelemy in this one. With a win, Rances becomes the mandatory for Julius Indongo (22-0), but I would love to see a Rances Barthelemy vs. Terence Crawford showdown if they both win. I think Barthelemy would be a problem for Crawford.