Russell Jr stops Escandon; Dirrell defeats Uzcategui – Results
By Jim Dower: WBC World featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) retained his title in defeating challenger Oscar Escandon (25-3, 17 KOs) by a 7th round TKO on Saturday night in a fight televised on Showtime Championship Boxing at the MGM National Harbor Casino in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Russell Jr. hurt the 32-year-old Escandon with big left and right hand to the head that knocked him to the ropes where referee Harvey Dock was forced to stop the fight. The fight was officially stopped at 0:59 of round 7.
(Photo Credit: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME)
Escandon would have been knocked down if the referee hadn’t stepped in when he did. Erlier in the fight, Russell Jr. knocked Escandon down in the 3rd round with a big left to the head. Escandon showed a lot of heart in getting through the 3rd round because Russell Jr. emptied his tool chest in attempting to knock him out.
In round 4, Russell Jr. backed off and seemed to fight at a much slower pace instead of going for the knockout. It looked as if Russell Jr. was fighting in 1st gear to allow Escandon to hang around. The 5’1 ½” Escandon didn’t have much in the way of punching power to worry Russell Jr. Escandon was mostly throwing body shots in the round, and they weren’t powerful enough to worry Russell Jr.
Russell Jr. was nailing Escandon with uppercuts in rounds 5 and 6th in close. Escandon had no defense for the hard uppercuts that Russell Jr. kept hitting him with. Escandon never made any adjustments in the fight to keep from getting hit with those shots.
In the co-feature bout, Andre Dirrell (26-2, 16 KOs) went down memory lane in defeating Jose Uzcategui (26-2, 22 KOs) by an 8th round disqualification to win the interim IBF super middleweight title. A frustrated looking Uzcategui hit Dirrell after the bell sounded in round 8. Dirrell was knocked down hard and too hurt to continue.
Referee Billy Clancy immediately disqualified Uzcategui for the punch after the bell. At the time of the stoppage, the 26-year-old Uzcategui was ahead on the scorecards by the scores 77-74, 77-75 and 76-76. Boxing News 24 had the fight even at 76-76. What was troubling about the fight was that Uzcategui had hit Dirrell after the bell in round 2 as well, and appeared to throw a late shot after round 5.
It’s hard to understand why Uzcategui continually threw shots after the bell. The only thing I can think of is he was getting a boxing lesson from the 33-year-old Dirrell, and having a very hard hitting him. The possible frustration might have led Uzcategui to hit Dirrell when the rounds ended with him having dropped his hands. However, the old rule applies, ‘protect yourself at all times.’ Dirrell should have learned from his 11th round disqualification win over Arthur Abraham from 2010. In that fight, Dirrell was winning the fight going into the 11th round. Abraham made the mistake of hitting Dirrell after he slipped on the canvas. The punch while Dirrell was down resulted in him being injured.
Dirrell won the fight, but he won it in a less than desirable way. Tonight’s fight, was very similar except that Uzcategui hit Dirrell after the bell. Unfortunately, Uzcategui did this to Dirrell more than once in the fight.
After the fight was over one of Dirrell’s team members punched Uzcategui in the jaw with a hard right hand. Uzcategui then left the round while pandemonium occurred between the two different team members.
”He hit me with a shot after the bell and everything else is a blur. All I heard was the bell. I forgive Uzcategui,” said Dirrell after the fight ended.
The whole time Dirrell was speaking to Showtime Boxing interviewer Jim Gray, the crowd booed him, as they were not happy. It appeared that some boxing fans either thought Dirrell was faking being hurt or they didn’t like the fact that he won the fight. The fans should have been angry with Uzcategui because he was the one that fouled Dirrell by hitting him after the bell not once but TWICE in the fight. You can understand Uzcategui belting Dirrell by mistake once after the bell, but then it again a second with a huge shot to the head.
There’s no way that referee Bill Clancy could let Uzcategui get away with that. If the fight had been stopped and had gone to the scorecards, then Uzcategui would have won the fight by an 8 round majority decision. However, the results of the contest likely would have been overturned at a later date and changed to a win for Dirrell, because it was clear that Uzcategui had hit Dirrell after the bell and hurt him. The fact that Uzcategui hit Dirrell after the bell twice in the fight, the referee was going to come down hard on Uzcategui for doing this the second time, especially with him hurting Dirrell.
Earlier in the fight, Uzcategui hurt Dirrell with a right hand to the head. It came early in the round. However, Dirrell survived the round and looked good as the bell sounded. Uzcategui then opted to hit Dirrell in the head well after the round ended. Dirrell was shocked at how late the punch came.
Uzcategui controlled most of round 3 with big power shots. In the last 20 seconds of the round, Dirrell began to time the slower Uzcategui and hit him with big power shots to the head nice jabs. In the last seconds of the round, Uzcategui put his arm on the ropes and began to showboat and taunt Dirrell. It looked like he was trying to upset Dirrell because he hadn’t fought well in that round.
The southpaw Dirrell took over the fight starting in round 4, as he nailed Uzcategui with straight lefts and a lot of jabs. Uzcategui looked like he had lost the confidence that he had earlier in the fight, because he was not teeing off on Dirrell like he’d done in the first three rounds. Dirrell frequently backed up to the corner and he was able to use his fast reflexes to nail the slower Uzcategui with straight lefts and jabs.
Rounds 5 through 7 were controlled by Dirrell with his jabs and straight lefts. Uzcategui was no longer throwing nearly as many punches as he had in the previous rounds. In the last seconds of round 7, Uzcategui hit Dirrell with 3 straight right hands that were thrown with little power. Dirrell had dominated the entire round though, so it was clearly his round.
In the 8th round, Dirrell was in command the entire time until the final seconds of the round in which he backed up the corner. Uzcategui landed a left hand as the round ended. However, after the round ended, Uzcategui hit Dirrell with 2 more punches to knock him out after the bell. In fairness to Uzcategui, he seemed to have gotten into the combinations he was throwing and he just didn’t want to stop for some reason. The referee Bill Clancy had warned both fighters in the last 5 seconds that the round was about to end. However, it looked Uzcategui didn’t hear what Clancy had told him.
With the win, Dirrell will now be fighting a rematch with IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale at some point. Dirrell lost to DeGale by a 12 round decision in 2015 in a fight for the vacant IBF super middleweight title. Now, Dirrell will get a chance to try and avenge the loss.
In a very controversial fight on the card, former super featherweight champion Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs) won a controversial 12 round unanimoua decision over Kiryl Relikh (25-3, 16 KOs). The final judges’ scores were 116-110, 115-111 and 117-109. Boxing News 24 scored it 9 rounds to 3 in favor of Relikh. He outworked Barthelemy an controlled most of the rounds with his body punching.
Barthelemy was knocked down in round 5. Relikh was dropped by a body shot in round 8.
Relikh connected on 248 of 970 punches. Barthelemy landed 137 of 521 punches. Barthelemy landed a lot of low blows down the stretch.
Barthelemy is now the mandatory challenger to IBF 140 pound champion Julius Indongo.
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