Gary Russell Jr. makes the second defense of his WBC Featherweight title against interim titlist Oscar Escandon on May 20th, 2017 at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Another Long Layoff
Russell will be making his return from another long layoff. He won the belt by beating Jhonny Gonzalez in March of 2015 but it took another 13 months before he stopped Patrick Hyland in two rounds. Now, it’s been another 13 months since the Hyland bout and Russell will be facing the man who was given the interim title during Russell’s hiatus.
For Oscar Escandon, this won’t be just an opportunity to legitimize his title but it will be a chance to beat a big name on a big stage. Escandon became the interim champion with a 7th round KO win over Robinson Castellanos. The fight with Russell was scheduled for March 11th but Escandon suffered a back injury while training, hence it was moved to May 20th. Escandon says he is now 100% healthy and he is ready to shock Russell the way Maidana did Adrien Broner.
Russell is a huge favorite here at -3500 while Escandon is at +1750. But don’t let the line deceive you. Escandon is a better fighter than what it says and he is definitely not a pushover. He may not be on Russell’s level but he has never lost a fight decisively in his boxing career. His two defeats were by close split decisions. Escandon may be very shot at just 5-1 but don’t underestimate him because of that. He works the body well and he also packs a good looking punch. He has very sound defense and he often throws off his opponents because of his size ( or the lack thereof ).
As good as his credentials are, however, Gary Russell is one of the elite boxers of today. He is known for his speed and combinations but has been on a ‘power trip’ as of late. Russell has won his last two fights by KO and he’s stopped six of his last nine opponents. Russell is coming off a win over Patrick Hyland and has been on a roll since suffering his only loss to Vasyl Lomachenko. Having said that, Escandon will have his hands full and will need to deliver a performance of a lifetime to walk away with the title.
It’s hard to pick against Gary Russell Jr. here, so we’re predicting a decisive win for Russell. It may or may not be a KO but it will definitely make a statement to the other featherweight champions. That being said, the odds for an Escandon win are as playable as they get, so a flier bet on the upset could be worth a try.