On Saturday, March 11, 2017, WBC Featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (27-1, 16 KOs) will make the second defense of his title when he faces mandatory challenger, Oscar Escandon (25-2, 17 KOs).
The fight will take place at the recently opened MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD and marks a major homecoming for the entire Russell family with Russell Jr.’s two younger brothers–Gary Antonio and Gary Antoine—also on the undercard.
The co-main event will also pack a punch as undefeated WBC Super Welterweight champion Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) takes on Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs).
On Thursday, February 16, 2017, boxing media joined the fighters to officially announce the bout and discuss the Featherweight title matchup.
“He’s a complete pressure fighter. He comes forward and doesn’t stop punching,” said Russell Jr.
“A lot of fighters can only fight if they can rest, sit back and dictate what goes on. But this guy doesn’t let you think and dictate what goes on. We’re going to have to use a lot of angles, but like Mike Tyson said, everybody got a gameplan until you get punched in the face,” said Russell Jr.
Although Escandon is entering Russell Jr.’s hometown, his last visit to the Washington DC area was a successful one as he knocked out Robinson Castellanos back in March of 2016.
Escandon, alongside head trainer Ruben Guerrero, discussed their partnership and how training together for two years has helped refine the challengers style.
“I was already an experienced fighter when I met Ruben, I had been in the Olympics, but he saw things that I was doing wrong and we’ve improved on those,” said Escandon.
Although the official announcement for this bout comes with less than 30 days remaining until fight night, Escandon says he has been preparing for Russell Jr. since their first bout fell through back in November of 2014.
“No excuses, we’ll be ready. You can’t take anything away from Russell Jr., he’s a good opponent, but March 11 I know the title is coming home with me,” said Escandon.
Guerrero, who often times extremely animated and over the top, was subdued at the presser while discussing the Escandon’s improvements since their merger.
“I didn’t change much all at once. Just little by little we did things here and there,” said Guerrero. “He was already a good boxer and I didn’t want to take away the good things that he did before.”
Escandon is lucky enough to have a secret weapon in Ruben’s son, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, who from time to time lends his opinion.
“I talk with Robert all the time and he gives me suggestions to help Oscar since they’re both left handed fighters,” said Guerrero.
“On March 11 you’re going to see the best Oscar Escandon and we’re going to win that title,” said Guerrero.
Tickets for Gary Russell Jr. vs. Oscar Escandon are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting www.MGMNationalHarbor.com.
Header photo by Eugenio Salazar/MGM National Harbor
Article photos by Alex Burgos/RBRBoxing
Alejandro "Alex" Burgos is a former Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Round By Round Boxing. He is a professional blogger, SEO Consultant and Marketing Director at Capital Practice Consulting in Washington, DC.