Gary Russell vs Oscar Escandon: Weigh-In Results

Gary Russell Jr 125.5 vs. Oscar Escandon 125.75
Andre Dirrell 167.5 vs. Jose Uzcategui 166.5
Rances Barthelemy 139.5 vs. Kiryl Relikh 139.5

Gary Russell Jr will successfully defend his WBC Featherweight title, but Oscar Escandon will not be a walk in the park.

Gary Russell Jr 27-1 (16 KO’s) on hand speed and skill alone will beat Oscar Escandon. Only one fighter in the world is better than Russell Jr, and that is a subject to be tackled later.

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Oscar Escandon 25-2 (17 KO’s) is one of the most durable fighters in boxing. He has never been knocked out, he is tough as nails, but… Yeah, the dreaded “But.” But, Escandon has not fought anyone on Russell Jr’s level.

Escandon’s last fight was a notable win over Robinson Castellanos. Castellanos is the guy who sent Yuriorkis Gamboa and Rocky Juarez into forced retirements, handed Ronny Rios his first loss, and battered Celestino Caballero when he was hot. Oscar Escandon KO’d Castellano in March (March of 2016).

Gary Russell Jr and Oscar Escandon’s inactivity make this an intriguing fight. How Rusty will Russell Jr be? Will his rustiness give the over matched Escandon an opportunity to do the impossible? Then again, will Escandon’s inactivity make Russell Jr look like the best fighter in the world?

Alright, those aren’t the questions we want answered. Bottom line, and I said we will tackle it later, only one fighter has ever looked better than Gary Russell Jr. The only fighter in the world to hand Russell Jr his first pro defeat.

What fans want to know and see is if Gary Russell Jr has made any improvement to warrant a rematch with the World’s #1 Fighter, Vasyl Lomachenko?

Only two things will keep Russell Jr from making this fight a walk in the park: Escandon’s toughness and Russell Jr’s blatant desire to get a rematch with Lomachenko.

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GARY RUSSELL JR 48 Hours before the fight:

“I’m ready to go to the gym. It is only 20 minutes away from the hotel. I’m already at weight. I want to get this work in, so I can eat better.

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Featherweight world champion Gary Russell Jr. and top challenger Oscar Escandon went face-to-face Thursday at the final press conference before they square-off in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING this Saturday, May 20 from MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

Also in attendance at Thursday’s press conference and competing in action on SHOWTIME were super middleweight contenders Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui, who battle for the IBF Super Middleweight World Championship, plus two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy and former title challenger Kiryl Relikh, who meet in a 140-pound title eliminator. The telecast begins at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT with Gervonta Davis putting his IBF Jr. Lightweight Title on the line against Liam Walsh from Copper Box Arena in London.

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Tickets for the live event at MGM National Harbor, promoted by TGB Promotions, are priced at $200, $150, $100 and $50, and are now on sale. To purchase tickets go to http://mgmnationalharbor.com/.

Russell Jr. was joined by his brothers, 2016 U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell and unbeaten prospect Gary Antonio Russell, as the trio of brothers look to pick up a hat trick of victories in their hometown Saturday night and on the birthday of their father and trainer, Gary Russell Sr.

Here is what the participants had to say Thursday from MGM National Harbor:

GARY RUSSELL JR.

“I never magnify an event, even though it’s at home. The end objective is still the same. But I think it’s cool that everyone in our neighborhood has the opportunity to be in the arena and see what we do.

“I’m 100 percent physically and mentally ready for the challenge and I’m on top of everything I can be.

“When you get caught up in the hype, it’s a deficiency in yourself. You have to be able to focus on the objective over everything else.

“I believe in my ability but also the ability of my brothers. So I’m not nervous for them. I know what they’ve been taught. They conduct themselves like young men in and out of the ring.

“I want a unification bout after this. I’m ready for any of the other world champions. We can line them all up in the same night if you want. If I can’t get those fights, I’m going to move up in weight and bully around these bigger guys.

“I look at each fighter as their own individual. We don’t prepare the same way for every opponent. He’s a tough fighter who comes forward. He’s very physical and I expect him to be at his best on Saturday. It’s up to me to counteract what he does.

“I love this sport. I love what I do. I love being able to prepare for no one else, but the person across the ring and then dismantling him.

“We worked on versatility most. We believe in the sweet science. A lot of these guys just win because they’re stronger and faster. We want to be more technically sound too.”

OSCAR ESCANDON

“This is a very important fight for my career. This is going to elevate me to where I want to be and give me the platform to do anything in the sport. I’m very well prepared for this.

“I feel strong and healthy at 126-pounds. I’m focused on this fight Saturday night. I’ll fight anyone but right now I have to get past Gary Russell Jr.

“In my last fight I was the underdog. People counted me out. Same thing applies here. I’ve done the work and I’m confident that I’m going to win.

“I didn’t have complete training camps with my past trainers, but now I’m with Ruben Guerrero. I’m learning so much. You can look at me in my previous fights and you’ll see a vast improvement now.

“I want that green (WBC) belt a lot. Green is my favorite color. I want to be the best and to me, winning that title signifies that I am the best. To do that I have to beat the best, and that is Gary Russell Jr.

“I don’t like to talk much but I will say that I’m coming to bring this world title back to Colombia. I respect Gary but my mindset is that I’m taking this title home.”

ANDRE DIRRELL

“It’s been a long hard journey for me. But I’ve always managed to climb back on top. The hard work that I’ve put in will make Saturday night easy work.

“My opponent is a fantastic fighter. If anyone should be in line for a title it’s this guy. He has the the power and he has the skill. I just believe he’s up against a better and tougher opponent.

“I’m going to get in the ring and display all of my abilities. I’m very confident and ready. It’s time for Andre to get on top and stay on top.

“I’ve been out of the ring for a while but most importantly, I’ve stayed in the gym in training the whole time. I’ve kept positive mentally as well. Everything is going upward right now and I’m going to take advantage.

“Uzcategui has everything a world champion needs to get to that title, but he’s facing a more skilled competitor on May 20. He’s deserving of the opportunity and that’s why I trained so hard for this fight.

“The title means the world to me. We fight for the titles first. We’re all coming from the amateurs where we got trophies. My love will always be here with the sport until the day I retire.”

JOSE UZCATEGUI

“You won’t want to miss any of these fights on Saturday night. It’s a great card and I’m planning to steal the show.

“I like when my opponent talks a lot. None of the stuff my opponent says can help him in the ring. It’s just me, him and our fists.

“It’s a lot of responsibility to be the top contender for the belt. I have to make it clear that we deserve this so that I can move on to bigger and better things.

“People are going to get to see my power on display Saturday night, but also my other skills. I can do it all in the ring and I’m going to prove it.

“After this I want to take on James DeGale and Gilberto Ramirez. I’m coming to clean out this whole division and be undisputed. It starts on Saturday.”

RANCES BARTHELEMY

“I’m living a dream right now that I myself never in a million years imagined. Every time I get to speak with my mother in Cuba, I tell her of this dream that I am currently living and how it is still surreal to me. To be able to fight on these big cards in the U.S. after the long journey, after all the setbacks, I could not be any more grateful.

“Being a world champion in two different weight divisions is something still unreal to me after people doubted whether I would even become a world champion one day. But this journey does not stop here for me. I have the urge to keep on going, make history for my people, and fight the big names in boxing.

“Everyone in my team supports and motivates each other because we know we as Cubans have to work twice as hard as everybody else. There is an unfair representation of Cuban boxers among the press and fans here in America. We are misconstrued as being boring fighters therefore we are determined to erase that stigma and prove to everyone that we can brawl and put on a good show just as much as we can box.

“I have been working on some new and different things to add to my arsenal this training camp. My whole team has been incredible and pushed me every day.

“Don’t miss this fight on Saturday night. It’s going to be eventful and exciting. I’m coming to get a spectacular win.”

KIRYL RELIKH

“I’m very happy to be here and be a part of this great show. I will do my best to give a great fight on Saturday.

“Camp was perfect. I have a great team and I’m ready for anything. We worked hard and it’s going to be a great performance.

“I’m ready for any style that that Rances Barthelemy can bring into the ring. We thought that we got the win in Scotland against Ricky Burns, but it is very hard to win on points on the road.

“I always fight in different countries so this is just another one on my list. It’s normal for me. I’m very ready for the challenge and I’m expecting a great fight.

“I hope that people like my style. I’m going to entertain the fans and get a victory over Rances Barthelemy on Saturday night.”

GARY ANTUANNE RUSSELL

“I get to pick up right where I left off after the Olympics. I’m fighting on the same night with my brothers for the first time in so long. It was one of my first amateur fights when we last did it.

“I’m feeling really good. We’re making a statement and we’re making history. What’s not to be excited about?

“Mentally and emotionally the Olympics really helped me for the pros. You have to develop over time. We’re constantly training and sharpening our tools. This is a different stage, that’s all.

“I hope everyone is ready for Saturday night. There were some mishaps at the Olympics. Life is going to throw you bumps to get over, and that’s what I’m going to do. Everyone better keep their eyes open Saturday, because it might be quick.”

GARY ANTONIO RUSSELL

“I’m really excited about this fight and competing alongside my brothers. It feels good to come home and fight. My family and friends will be in the building.

“I can’t wait to get in the ring and show what we’ve been working so hard on. All the hours in the gym with my dad and brothers is going to pay off on fight night.

“I’ve seen some video of my opponent. I know his weaknesses and strengths. We’re going to come exploit it on fight night.”

GARY RUSSELL SR., Father and Trainer of the Russells

“We work hard in the gym. Everybody has a plan until they get hit. We know that he’s going to bring pressure and we’ll be ready for it.

“I’m really happy about this opportunity. We can get it all done in one night and put on a great show for everyone.

“I’m definitely in fight mode. There are no extra nerves at all. I just want to get this done and get it done right.

“I can’t really put Escandon in the same category with the top guys we’ve faced. He’s a short fighter. Most people in these weight classes are taller than Gary. At that size, the only way you can fight is straight forward. He’s not going to out box us.”

RUBEN GUERRERO, Escandon’s Trainer

“We’re ready over here. We’re going to do what it takes. We know what we’re up against. He’s one of the best. We’ll prove who is the best on Saturday. This is going to come down to a war. Gary knows what he’s going against.

“I helped Escandon set up a camp in Las Vegas for this fight because this was a huge opportunity. We were up in the mountains and that’s where I wanted him. He’s going to be great on fight night. He’ll be ready to go. It’s not easy to train in Vegas.

“We’re coming to win. We can’t control the judges but we know they’re fair. We’re expecting a fair shake. We’re going to control what we can.”

More Quotes

Featherweight world champion Gary Russell Jr. hosted a media workout Thursday along with his brothers and rising prospects Gary Antuanne Russell and Gary Antonio Russell before all three brothers enter the ring on Saturday, May 20 live from MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

Coverage on SHOWTIME is headlined by Russell Jr. defending his featherweight world title against top challenger Oscar Escandon. The telecast begins at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT features super middleweight contenders Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui battling for the IBF Super Middleweight World Championship plus two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy taking on Kiryl Relikh in a 140-pound world title eliminator. In the telecast opener, from Copper Box Arena in London, Gervonta Davis puts his IBF Jr. Lightweight Title on the line against Liam Walsh.

Tickets for the live event at MGM National Harbor, promoted by TGB Promotions, are priced at $200, $150, $100 and $50, and are now on sale. To purchase tickets go to http://mgmnationalharbor.com/.

The 2016 U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne and unbeaten bantamweight prospect Antonio Russell (7-0, 5 KOs) will compete in separate undercard attractions on May 20 as the three brothers will fight on the same card for the first time as pros.

Here is what the participants had to say Thursday from the Enigma Boxing Gym in Capitol Heights, Maryland:

GARY RUSSELL JR.

“My weight is perfect. We did a 30-day weigh-in and I was about 132. I’m about 128 right now. I feel comfortable. If we can’t get a unification bout, I’ll move up in weight though. I understand why people haven’t wanted to fight me. It’s a business and I understand that.

“The postponement didn’t bother me. I can’t get upset about stuff that I can’t control. When you have two elite athletes pushing themselves to the limit, injuries occur. It gave me more time to rest my body properly. We’re definitely ready now.

“I haven’t fought anyone as short as him, but that’s the purpose of training camp. We bring people in who have a similar style to Escandon. We’ve gotten great work in and I feel prepared.

“It’s easier against a more aggressive guy. It’s hard to go after someone who is retreating. He’s going to bring it right into my face.

“We come to the gym and grind every day so we can be the best we possibly can. On fight night, it’ll all come to fruition.

“It’s going to be history in the making. We’re in familiar territory with making history. We were the first set of four brothers to win the National Golden Gloves and I don’t see anyone breaking our record any time soon. I believe in a dynasty and I’m excited for my dad to see all of his hard work come together on fight night.

“When you focus on the magnitude of an event you take away from the true focus that we’re supposed to have. My goal is to become victorious. But it’s definitely cool that the people from my hometown will be able to be a part of the event.”

GARY ANTUANNE RUSSELL

“We plan on giving our father a gift that he can’t buy on his birthday May 20. There’s been a lot of sets of two brothers but there’s never been three as far as I know. There have been the Klitschkos, the Dirrells and the Charlos, but those are just two. We’re breaking new ground.

“This sport is brutal. Anyone who steps into that ring has to have a certain amount of intelligence, heart and character. It takes a different kind of individual to get in there alone knowing the other person is trying to take your head off.

“Gary Jr. is my vision. I needed a role model and there he is. I needed someone to keep my humble and keep me out of trouble.

“Me and my whole family talk a lot and about everything. Not just about the sport of boxing. Boxing is what I do, but it’s not who I am. I’m a class valedictorian and I graduated with the highest GPA in Prince George’s County. Don’t just look at me as a jock. That’s what we tell anybody.

“Real estate is in my future. We’re going to own our own properties and be the shot callers. I’ve been getting educated from my brother and my father.

“It’s amazing what my dad did, but you can’t forget about my mom. Behind every king is a strong queen. My mom is the most important woman in my life. Other than that, it’s tunnel vision. Tunnel vision in school and in the gym or anything else I do in my life.

“I want to give back to my brother. A lot of families leave their children with nothing. We’re all working to leave something with substance for our families.

“What makes the Russell brothers different is that we’re all equal and we get our energy from each other. It’s never about being better at something than your brother, we all want to get through every obstacle together.

“I’d say I should be on the world title level in the next five years. This is a business. We’re going to do this well. That’s what my team talks about.

“We’re looking to build a dynasty and I believe that May 20 will be a memento to our dynasty building. I hope I’m at the championship level in the next five years. We’re going to run this thing correctly.”

GARY ANTONIO RUSSELL

“It means a lot but it was all expected. We put in hard work in the gym so I expected us to reach these levels.

“It’s even better to be able to come home and compete. Not all of our fans could make it to our other fights. But being at MGM in Maryland, it’s all coming together.

“I watch everything that my older brother does and I learn from his mistakes. He makes sure that I don’t make those same mistakes. He critiques me every way, through life and in the gym.

“My career is going up. I know my father has my best interest at heart. He’s going to get me the right fights and put me in good positions.

“There is a sense of order in our house. Iron sharpens iron. We all help each other no matter what. We’ll all be victorious on May 20 and it’s going to be a wonderful birthday present for our dad.”

GARY RUSSELL SR., Father and Trainer for the Russell brothers

“The D.C. and Maryland area has always produced great boxers. Right now it’s their time. With Gary, Jarrett Hurd and Gervonta Davis, this is as good as it’s ever been. They represent the sport as gentlemen.

“Gary Antuanne is coming in fresh off of the Olympics. We know he won that fight in Rio, but politics got him. He’s not a normal young fighter. He was a class valedictorian which I don’t think a lot of boxers can say. Antonio has a lot of talent as well and he’s on the rise. It’s going to be a great opportunity to show their skills.

“I’m really excited. It’s unique to have all of these guys from the area showcasing their talent at the same time. I’ve known Jarrett and Tank since they were kids and I’m proud of how far they’ve come.”

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WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. will make the second defense of his title when he faces top challenger Oscar Escandon Saturday, May 20 in themain event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING from the recently opened MGM National Harbor in Maryland live on SHOWTIME.

The Maryland-native Russell Jr. (27-1, 16 KOs) and the WBC Interim Featherweight Champion Escandon (25-2, 17 KOs) will battle in one of boxing’s most talented divisions that continues to deliver exciting action fight after fight. A lineup of exciting co-featured attractions will be announced next week.

“I’m a gladiator getting ready for a tough battle,” said Russell Jr. “This is going to be a huge night for my family and I’m glad that the time is here. This will be the first time as pros that I get to fight on the same card as both of my little brothers, (unbeaten bantamweight) Gary Antonio and (2016 U.S. Olympian) Gary Antuanne, plus my brother Gary Allan will work all of our corners. We’re excited to get in the ring and show the fans what we’re capable of doing in the ring.”

“I’ve had to wait for this opportunity to face Gary Russell Jr. and I’m going to take full advantage of it,” said Escandon. “It’s going to be a great fight and I know the fans are going to get their money’s worth. I feel 100 percent healthy and now that the fight is here I am ready to knock him out.”

Tickets for the live event promoted by TGB Promotions are priced at $200, $150, $100 and $50, and are now on sale. To purchase tickets go to http://mgmnationalharbor.com/. The main event is co-promoted by Sampson Boxing. This bout was originally scheduled to take place on March 11 but was rescheduled after Escandon suffered a back injury in training camp. Fans who bought tickets for the March 11 show will have their tickets honored on May 20.

“This is going to be a great night of boxing,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “The featherweight division is very hot right now with the recent wins by Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares. There is something very special going on in the division and this will be another memorable fight. Escandon is a tough warrior who has proven time and again that he doesn’t care about going on the road or where he fights. There are great boxing fans in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia region and they are in-store for an exciting night on May 20.”

A speedy and supremely talented boxer, Russell Jr., was impressive in his fourth-round stoppage of the battle-tested Jhonny Gonzalez that earned him the title in March 2015. The 2008 U.S. Olympian had scored important victories over Vyacheslav Gusev, Juan Ruiz and Miguel Tamayo before losing a majority decision to Vasyl Lomachenko for the WBO 126-pound title in June 2014. The southpaw, of Capitol Heights, Md., most recently scored a dominant second-round TKO victory over Patrick Hyland in his first title defense in April 2016.

Fighting out of Ibague, Colombia, Escandon turned pro in 2008 and was undefeated in his first 22 professional bouts. Escandon won an interim world title at super bantamweight in 2014 when he defeated Tyson Cave in his U.S. debut. He earned his shot at Russell Jr. last March when he survived an early knockdown to score a knockout victory over Robinson Castellanos in the seventh round of their showdown in Washington, D.C.

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