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Story by: Robert Uzzell
There was plenty of action on Saturday night from the MGM National Harbor as Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) defended his WBC World featherweight against Oscar Escandon (25-3, 17 KOs).
I thought Gary Russell did what he should have done, which was win. However, he needs to be much more active than he has been of late. If you watch the fight closely, you see that Russell was hit with shots that a fighter of his talent should not allow from a guy a few levels lower.
Gary Russell has extremely fast hands. Everyone knows that to be true. However, boxing is more than just hand speed. You heard it here first- if Gary doesn’t stay more active and steps up to fight guys like Leo Santa Cruz or Carl Frampton he loses. I’m not even going to bring up the real fight he’s clamoring for, which is a rematch with Vasyl Lomachenko. If he takes that based on what I saw Saturday night, he lose worse than he did the first time.
My recommendations is for Gary to try to fight 2 to 3 more times in 2017. At this point, I don’t think it will happen. Gary seems to be lost in the mix. I don’t think he is big enough or powerful enough to make a move up and make significant noise. To be real, I’m torn on what he should do next. I truly believe he’s being set up for a fall if he takes on anybody in the top 5 at this point. We shall see.
The second Russell of the trio, Gary “Antonio” Russell moved to 8-0, 6 KOs as he walked through Jovany Fuentes (7-9, 6 KOs). Russell scored knockdowns in the second and third. A left hook on the temple ended Fuentes’s night.
Gary Antonio Russell:
“We capitalized on everything we worked on in the gym. We knew he favored his right hook so I would walk to it to try to get him to throw it and he wasn’t really doing it. I just knew I needed to touch and fire and that is exactly what I did.
“There was never any extra pressure because we didn’t magnify this fight just because it was at home. We treat every fight like a championship fight.
“The Russells are two for two, but personally I think we are already three for three…that’s what’s expected tonight.”
Gary Antuanne Russell, (1-0 1 KO) won his pro debut over Josh Ross (2-4-4). Russell cornered Ross against the ropes and landed a body shot to drop him. Ross took an eight count and got up. Russell jumped on him again and stopped him with what appeared to be a double right hook to the head.
“I listened, I followed instructions and it led me to a fast victory. I wish it would have lasted longer. I was looking forward to it being more exciting.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be so short. We trained and sparred for twelve rounds, as if I was a professional before my debut and that’s what I was prepared to do – go the distance. But I executed what my father told me to and I got that quick victory.”
In the televised opener, Rances Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs) won a 12-round unanimous decision over valiant Kiryl Relikh, (25-3, 16 KOs). The first few rounds featured fantastic flurries from both guys and it was heating up to be the fight of the night.
Barthelemy landed what the referee deemed to be a low blow. After a timeout, the fighters were back to action and Relikh tried to take his anger out of Barthelemy.
Relikh went on the attack in the 5th round and shook Barthelemy badly and into the ropes. The referee ruled a knockdown and Barthelemy finished the round on unsteady legs. Relikh went in for the kill but couldn’t finish.
Barthelemy recovered in the next round and out boxed Relikh the rest of the way, scoring a body shot knockdown in the 8th round.
“It feels great to be going forward. The 11-month layoff really took a toll on my body and I felt it in the ring.
“I knew it was a close fight but knew I should get a unanimous decision.
“Relikh was a hard hitter. He surprised me with a right hook in the 5th round and I hit the canvas, so I knew I had to be careful going forward. I knew I had lost that round and had to come back stronger.
“I took the sixth round to take a breather and then I came back to work the body. Once I knocked him down, I saw that he was hurt and protecting himself upstairs a lot more so I knew I was going to have to be more strategic to come out victorious.”
“Of course I thought I won. Even TV thought I won. The referee did his job when he called it a knockdown in the fifth. I thought it was over.”
“The two low blows definitely affected me. It takes the wind out of you. This is boxing not MMA.”
The drama of the evening unfolded in the title eliminator between Andre “The Matrix” Dirrell (26-2, 16 KOs) and Jose Uzcategui (26-2, 22 KOs).
Uzcategui came out blazing and had Dirrell reeling as early as the first round. The tough as nails Uzcategui chased Dirrell and landed vicious shots everywhere he could on Dirrell.
In the middle rounds, both fighters began to exchange, with Uzcategui seemingly getting the best of it.
Then came the 8th round!
GARY RUSSELL JR. DEFEATS OSCAR ESCANDON IN FRONT OF HOMETOWN CROWD FROM MGM NATIONAL HARBOR, LIVE ON SHOWTIME®
Andre Dirrell Wins Via Disqualification Stoppage, Rances Barthelemy Earns Hard-Fought Decision Win
Gervonta Davis Stops Liam Walsh to Retain IBF Junior Lightweight Title from Copper Box Arena in London
Catch The Encore Presentation of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING®
on Monday, May 22 at 10 p.m. on SHO EXTREME
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Photo Credit: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME
Click HERE To Watch Gary Russell Jr.’s TKO
National Harbor (May 20) – From the MGM National Harbor “Mr.” Gary Russell Jr.,
(28-1, 17 KOs) had a successful homecoming in front of a nearly sold out crowd as he defended his WBC Featherweight World title with a seventh-round stoppage against the very tough, strong-willed Columbian Oscar Escandon (25-3, 17 KOs) in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING.
Russell Jr. took control of the action from the outset, peppering the shorter Escandon at will and dropping him in the third.
However, the brave Escandon fought his way back into the fight in the fourth and fifth stanzas, but Russell stormed into the seventh, battering the hurt Escandon and dropping him early, causing referee Harvey Dock to stop the fight at the 0:59 mark of the round (Click HERE to watch the TKO).
About the victory, Russell Jr. said, “First and foremost, I want to say happy birthday to my father. Secondly, I’d like to tell all the fans that came to support me: I love you all. Thank you.
“I fought a tough competitor. I knew Escandon wanted to come and bring his best. I knew he was going to come forward. I was ready for him. We are warriors.
“I want Lomachenko [next], that’s a no-brainer. I don’t want to do it for the fans or for the media, I want to do it for myself. And I want to do it twice. I’ll knock him out the first time and then, he’ll want me to fight him again.
“I’d love to unify against all the other guys in the featherweight division. I’d like Leo Santa Cruz, Lee Selby, Oscar Valdez.”
About the knockout loss, “I was getting my rhythm going and I felt like Gary was getting tired. I didn’t see him coming with the big punch he threw at the end and that was it. I went down and was hoping to get a 10 count, but the referee didn’t give it to me and he stopped the fight.
“I knew that Gary was going to go fast from the first to the fifth round and it was part of my strategy to let him do that and get tired. It didn’t work unfortunately.
“Now we need to go back to the drawing board to rest and see what my manager has planned for me.”
Said trainer and father Gary Russell Sr., “I’m ecstatic. I’m really happy. I got three wins. Three stoppages. It’s my birthday. I’m 15 minutes from home and I can go home and relax.
“We prepared fully for Mr. Escandon. We knew he was going to do what he did – come forward. I don’t want to diminish or take anything away from Mr. Escandon. He really is a hard, rough fighter. Throughout the course of the fight, I instructed Gary to hit him with some good shots. Some hard shots. It is a brutal sport.”
Co-featured on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING in a 12-round clash for the IBF Interim Super Middleweight Title, Flint, Michigan’s Andre Dirrell, (26-2, 16 KOs), was declared the winner after round eight as Jose Uzcategui, (26-2, 22 KOs) of Merida, Venezuela, was disqualified for a punch after the bell sounded to end the eighth round.
Uzcategui started fast, battering Dirrell from the opening round, cutting off the ring and slamming away with body and head shot through the first three rounds. Dirrell saw success starting in the fourth round, countering Uzcategui and scoring
Over the next four rounds, the contenders traded even as the fight became more hotly contested. At the end of the eighth round, with Dirrell backed into a neutral corner, Uzcategui let loose with a three-punch combination, the last left hand hitting the southpaw after the bell as he fell to the combination.
Following a delay to allow medical personnel to attend to Dirrell, referee Bill Clancy declared that Uzcategui was disqualified with Dirrell being declared the winner.
Said referee Bill Clancy about his decision, “The bell rang to stop the round. The round was over and Andre [Dirrell] was knocked out with an illegal punch. So therefore, Dirrell will win this fight by disqualification.
“That’s a blatant foul. Earlier in the fight, I had warned Uzcategui. I warned him. Dirrell wins the fight, he was clearly unable to continue.”
About the ending, Dirrell said, “All I remember was him [Uzcategui] throwing a shot at me at the same time the bell rang. After that everything was blurry. I remember a shot and then all went fuzzy.
“I forgive Uzcategui. I forgive his camp. I don’t want to win a championship like this. I wanted to win fair and square. But I forgive him.
Following the decision, Dirrell’s trainer and uncle Leon Lawson punched Uzcategui in the corner, sparking a brief altercation in the ring that was quelled by MGM National Harbor security and local police.
“I’m sorry for what my coach has done. My coach is my family, my uncle, and he was worried. He cares for me. He loves me. Please forgive him.
“I’m going to stand up like a man. I didn’t win like I wanted to, but I’ll be back. I’m going to come back as soon as they let me.”
Stated a very disappointed Uzcategui, “I felt very good. I was hurting him the entire fight. I felt like I could hurt him anytime I wanted. Nothing he hit me with hurt me.
“I was throwing a three-punch combination and I didn’t hear the bell. I didn’t mean to hit him. The third punch wasn’t that hard of a punch. I was surprised he stayed down.
“He did the same thing against Abraham that he did against me tonight. He quit against me and he quit against him. I deserve to be the winner.”
The live televised fights in The Theater kicked-off with two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs) winning a 12-round unanimous decision over valiant Kiryl Relikh, (25-3, 16 KOs), of Baranovichi, Byelorussia. Scores in the WBA Super Lightweight eliminator were 116-110, 115-111 and 117-109.
The opening two rounds of the fight featured excellent action with both fighters attempting to impose their will. In the third round Relikh suffered a low blow resulting in a two-minute delay, however, no point deduction was made by referee Kenny Chevalier. Following the low blow, the shorter Relikh became much more aggressive.
With the undefeated, blue-haired Barthelemy switching stances often in the fourth stanza, he was able to score at will against Relikh.
However, Relikh came out charging in the fifth, battering away against Barthelemy who was caught against the ropes and scoring a knockdown when the ropes held the Cuban up from a barrage of hard punches.
Recovering nicely in the sixth and seventh, Barthelemy badly hurt Relikh with a multitude of body shots from both hands. Continue reading
Check out the photos from the Gary Russell vs Oscar Escandon press conference.
All photos in slideshow and collage credited to NaKeela Taylor: CBoxingInfo/W.A.N.T. TV
Check out videos and photos from today’s workout session with the Russell trio:
Gary Russell Jr
Gary Antonio Russell
Gary Antuanne Russell
Also check out what Ms. Russell (the matriarch) and undercard boxer Cobia Breedy.
All photos in slideshow credited to NaKeela Taylor/W.A.N.T. TV
Interview with Gary Russell, Jr:
Interview with Cobia “Soldier” Breedy:
Interview with Ms. Russell:
Gary Russell Jr, Gary Antuanne Russell, and Gary Antonio Russell workout footage: