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Russell-Escandon & Dirrell-Uzcategui weights

By Jim Dower: WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (27-1, 16 KOs) weighed in at 125 1/2 pounds at Friday’s weigh-in for his title defense against fringe contender Oscar Escandon (25-2, 17 KOs) this Saturday night at the MGM National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Escandon weighed in 125 ¾ pounds. Showtime Championship Boxing will be televising the card.

(Photo Credit: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME)

The 5’4 ½” Russell Jr. will have a 3-inch height advantage over the 5’1 ½” Escandon. Russell Jr. looked a lot bigger than Escandon when the two of them were standing next to each other for the face off after the weigh-in.

This should be a good fight. Escandon is a professional with a high pressure style of fighting. Russell Jr. is making his annual title defense of his WBC title. Hopefully, Russell Jr. chooses to fight more than once in 2017, because in the last 2 years, he’s only fought one time per year. To say that Russell Jr. isn’t getting the most out of his career is putting it lightly. He’s getting very little out of his career and you have to ask why. Is it disinterest on his part, or is Russell Jr’s promoter not making he fights that he should? Whatever the case, the 29-year-old Russell Jr, should think about fighting more than once a year if he wants to take advantage of whatever time he has remaining at the World Boxing Council featherweight champion.

In the co-feature weights, super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell (25-2, 16 KOs) weighed in at 167 ½ pounds for his 12 round fight against Jose Uzcategui (26-1, 22 KOs). The 26-year-old Uzcategui weighed in at 166.5 pounds. This could be a very tough fight for the 33-year-old Dirrell if only because he fights so rarely. Dirrell has fought only 7 times in the last 7 years since his 11th round disqualification win over Arthur Abraham in 2010.

Dirrell fought once in 2016 and once in 2015. Last year, Dirrell beat Blake Caparello by a 10 round unanimous decision. In 2014, Dirrell lost to James DeGale by a 12 round unanimous decision in a fight for the vacant IBF super middleweight title. If Dirrell can beat Uzcategui, he could get a rematch with DeGale. That’s the good news. But it won’t be good for Dirrell if he chooses to stay out of the ring for a year or two. It’s doubtful that the International Boxing Federation will keep Dirrell as the DeGale’s mandatory indefinitely if he doesn’t take the fight after it’s ordered by the IBF.

Former IBF super featherweight champion Rances Barthelemy (25-0, 13 KOs) weighed in at 139.5 pounds for his World Boxing Association light welterweight title eliminator fight against the big punching Kiryl Relikh (21-1, 19 KOs). The Ricky Hatton trained 27-year-old Kiryl weighed in at 139.5 lbs. Relikh is coming off of a 12 round unanimous decision loss to WBA World light welterweight champion Ricky Burns last October. It’s nice for Relikh that he’s getting another shot at putting himself in position to fight for the WBA title. Relikh has a tough opponent in the 5’11” Barthelemy. Relikh didn’t fight well at times against Burns. It wasn’t until the last part of the fight that Relikh started to apply pressure to Burns and trouble him with his power. Barthelemy isn’t as elusive as Burns. If Relikh puts pressure on Barthelemy, he should be able to land his big power shots.

The 30-year-old Barthelemy is coming off of a narrow 12 round split decision win over Mickey Bey last year in June. Before that, Barthelemy beat Denis Shafikov and Antonio DeMarco in back to back fights. I’m not sure if Barthelemy has the rugged build to beat the big punchers in the light welterweight division. It was one thing for him to fight at lightweight, but a whole another thing to be fighting in the 140lb division. Relikh should be a good test for him.

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