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.
In the eight round Barthelemy truly turned the tide for good in the ninth, drilling Relikh to the canvas with a blistering left hook to the body. Through the championship rounds it was all Barthelemy who finished strong against the game but outgunned Relikh.
Said the victorious Barthelemy, “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.”
Replied a very disappointed Relikh, “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.”
Hot super bantamweight prospect Gary Antonio Russell improved to 8-0 with six knockouts with a dominating performance and knockout stoppage of Puerto Rico’s Jovany Fuentes, (7-9, 6 KOs). Following knockdowns in the second and third stanzas, the bout was called to a halt at 0:22 of round three.
Making his pro debut, super lightweight Gary Antuanne Russell, (1-0 1 KO) wasted no time dropping Joshua Ross, (2-4-4) of Monroe, LA to the canvas three times enroute to a stoppage victory at the 2:25 mark of the initial stanza.
Gervonta Davis went on the road in the first defense of his IBF Junior Lightweight World Championship and made a statement with an emphatic third-round TKO of previously undefeated local favorite Liam Walsh in the opening bout of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING from Copper Box Arena in London.
The southpaw Davis (18-0, 17 KOs) set the pace from the opening bell, connecting seemingly at will with a strong left hook. In the third round, America’s youngest world champion floored Walsh with a strong left after a series of brutal connecting combos on the inside. Walsh got up, but the onslaught continued seconds later and referee Michael Alexander stopped the championship bout at 2:11, with Walsh defenseless and on unsteady legs.
“Tonight we were in the groove,” Davis said. “I think he was hurt pretty bad. The ref did his job and it was just a matter of time. I used my boxing IQ tonight and picked my shots, and when I picked my shots I got him out of there.
“I’m still on the rise. I became a champion super-fast, but I’m still rising and there’s more to come.”
Promoter Floyd Mayweather was ringside in London to support his fighter, who he’s christened “the future of boxing.”
Walsh (21-1, 14 KOs), who entered the bout as the No. 1 challenger and the decided local favorite at Copper Box, was disappointed with the stoppage.
“He’s very fast, very active, but that was too quick,” Walsh said. “He won fair and square, but sometimes they stop the fight too early. I never got an opportunity. I’m not saying the result would be different, but give me a chance.
“I’d love to fight him again. I’d fight him for next to nothing.”