It sticks to him like a stain that he can’t wash out. Each opponent Gary Russell Jr. meets wears the face of Vasyl Lomachenko, the only fighter to ever beat Russell as a pro. And each fight Russell has had since that June 2014 setback means another step toward self-redemption in a Lomachenko rematch.
So did Oscar Escandon really stand a chance against the 126-pound world champion before a crowd of 2,345 at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland?
Fighting at home for the first time as a pro—as well as on the same card as two of his younger brothers and on his trainer-father Gary Russell Sr.’s 58th birthday—the Washington, D.C., native excited the heavily partisan crowd with a seventh-round TKO in his second title defense.
Russell dominated the fight from start to finish, opening by banging the body and using different angles from his southpaw stance to penetrate Escandon’s defense.
It was quickly apparent that Escandon couldn’t do anything to stifle the 28-year-old champion. Any attempt at a punch was greeted by a Russell three-punch combination.
In the third round, a Russell overhand right to the head felled Escandon for just the second time in his career. The 32-year-old Colombian got up wobbly and Russell resumed his attack, bouncing blows all over the shorter challenger.
The subsequent rounds followed the same pattern. Escandon came crouching forward, looking to get into Russell’s grill. Each time, his attempts came with punishing consequences.
Finally, the end came in the seventh. Another Russell right hook staggered Escandon, who tried to take a knee to regroup but referee Harvey Dock stepped in and waved an end to the fight 59 seconds into the round.
- Russell vs Escandon