NATIONAL HARBOR – Featherweight world champion Gary Russell, Jr. began his night working the corner of his younger brothers in their preliminary fights to his main event at the MGM National Harbor Resort and Casino last Saturday.
Both were victorious, as Gary Antonio Russell improved to 8-0 by knocking out Jovany Fuentes in the third round, while Gary Antuanne Russell won his pro debut with a first round TKO of Joshua Ross. Antuanne connected with a perfect left hand to floor Ross, who wanted no more action after getting up off the canvas. Antuanne was a member of the 2016 United States Olympic boxing team.
As for the main event, many boxing experts say Russell, Jr. (28-1) has the fastest hands in the sport. He showed why Saturday night.
Russell, Jr. was a technician against Oscar Escandon and displayed his full arsenal of punches from the opening bell. He connected with sharp jabs, hooks, upper cuts and viscous body shots on the shorter Escandon.
In the third round, Russell, Jr. caught Escandon with a textbook right hook and floored the Columbian fighter.
“I knew Escandon wanted to come and bring his best,” said the featherweight champion from Capitol Heights. “I knew he was going to come forward. That’s the only way he knows how to fight. Fighters rarely change their style. I was ready for him.”
They say speed kills and Escandon (25-3) can be a witness to that.
“I didn’t see him coming with that big punch at the end and that was it,” he said.
Escandon wobbled back and sunk onto the ropes. Referee Harvey Dock saw Escandon’s eyes and quickly stopped the fight 59 seconds into round seven.
Russell, Jr. wants to unify the featherweight division and then move up to the 130-pound division where the only fighter to beat him reigns as champion. Vasyl Lomachenko, despite only having nine pro fights, is right up there with the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world. “Fighting Lomachenko is a no brainer,” Russell, Jr. said. “I don’t want to fight him for the fans or the media. I want to do it for myself.”
A crowd of 2,345 chanted “Gary, Gary” over and over. Russell, Jr. grew up and lives only minutes from the MGM.
Along with the three Russell family wins and a birthday present for Gary, Sr., the father and trainer of all three boxers, Temple Hills’ D’Mitrius Ballard (17-0) won the USNBC Middleweight belt with a unanimous decision over Luna Chang last week in Arizona.
Landover’s Jordon White didn’t do as well, losing a decision in Loredo, Texas, last Saturday night. Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis successfully defended his IBF Jr. lightweight title in London with a third round TKO.
The next local card will feature undefeated Mykal Fox on June 3 at the famous Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington. He will take on Daniel Sostre.
About Ron Harris
Ron Harris, retired college administrator, coach, broadcaster, Internet and TV sports producer and host. Former radio host of a live call in show. Wrote sport copy for a radio sports director in Washington, DC. Extremely close to the sports landscape in the Washington, DC metro area. Former secondary school teacher. Radio sports reporter, covering MLB, college sports, major boxing events and much more.