Tom Casino /Showtime
Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) defended his WBC Featherweight title for the second time Saturday night, May 20 in front of more than 2,000 people at the MGM National Harbor.
This was Russell’s first time in his professional career fighting on his home turf and he did not disappoint. Russell’s movement, hand speed and power were just too much for Oscar Escandon.
Escandon showed true heart even though it was clear that he was overmatched from the start. The tough Colombian was knocked down in the third round but got up and fought back.
Russell continued to wear Escandon down, and at 59 seconds in Round 7, referee Harvey Dock halted the fight after Russell connected a brutal right to the temple and another straight right that sent Escandon to the canvas.
After another impressive display of discipline and superb technique, Russell proved yet again that he deserves to be at the top of the Featherweight division.
With this victory under his belt and another successful title defense, who should Gary Russell Jr. face next?
At the post-fight press conference, Russell discussed what he wants to happen next, “I’d love to unify against all the other guys in the Featherweight division. I’d like Leo Santa Cruz, Lee Selby, Oscar Valdez. Lomachenko, 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.”
Leo Santa Cruz Photo by Julio Sanchez/RBRBoxing
A fight against Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) would make for a very interesting fight. Santa Cruz is a high volume puncher and is very accurate. Santa Cruz also does a good job of getting his hands back into defensive position and tends to land much more than he gets hit in return.
Santa Cruz tends to get drawn into exchanges on the inside which could work in Russell’s favor. Russell would have to dictate the pace of the fight to come out victorious. This would be a very competitive fight and it would come down to who controls the tempo.
Lee Selby (24-1, 9 KOs) would be taking a big step up in competition if he were to fight Russell. Selby’s resume isn’t full of big names quite yet– Russell would be going into this fight with more experience.
With that being said, this wouldn’t be an easy fight for Russell, Selby continues to prove he is a strong Featherweight contender. Selby is quick and crafty but Russell also has quick hands and has more power. Stylistically, this would be a very entertaining fight.
A bout between Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) and Gary Russell Jr. would likely be an exciting fight. Both men are not afraid to exchange and both pack power behind their punches. This is an even match up and could go either way.
Rematch with Lomachenko
Who wouldn’t want to see a rematch between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko?
In the first fight, Lomachenko came out very aggressive and Russell was not prepared for it. Now that Russell has been in the ring with Lomachenko and knows what to expect, the second fight would likely be much more competitive than the first.
If Russell can avoid getting flustered by Lomachenko’s smothering style and works the ring better, this would make for a close and competitive fight. This would be a great fight for boxing fans.