Russell stops Escandon to keep featherweight crown
US southpaw Gary Russell stopped Colombian Oscar Escandon 59 seconds into the seventh round Saturday to retain his World Boxing Council featherweight crown.
After an undercard bout that had American police searching for the winner’s uncle following a post-fight attack, Russell dominated a South American rival in his first world title contest.
Russell improved to 28-1 with his 17th victory inside the distance while Escandon fell to 25-3.
Russell landed a powerful right hook early in the third round that forced Escandon to touch his hands to the canvas for balance, suffering only the second knockdown of his career.
The South American took more punishment throughout the round, Russell landing powerful combinations, but switched to a southpaw style in the fourth and blunted Russell’s momentum at the National Harbor casino.
A right hook in the seventh backed up Escandon, whose knees buckled near the ropes as Russell landed a solid left that prompted referee Harvey Dock to stop the fight.
“It was a good performance,” Russell said. “I knew he would be a tough opponent. It was my job to make the necessary adjustments.”
Russell hopes to unify titles next against a rival champion, such as Welshman Lee Selby, who is 24-1 with nine knockouts and on a 20-fight win streak. Otherwise, Russell plans to jump from the 126-pound division to super featherweight.
Hometown favorite Russell also apologized to spectators for the finish to US southpaw Andre Dirrell’s disqualification victory over Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui for the vacant International Boxing Federation super middleweight crown.
Uzcategui landed a left hook that flattened Dirrell at the end of the eighth round, a blow ruled after the bell and following an early warning for punching after the bell.
The South American was disqualified and Dirrell named the winner. But Dirrell’s uncle, Leon Lawson, entered the ring in the moments after the finish and sucker punched Uzcategui with a left to the jaw.
Telecasters Showtime said police were searching for Lawson to arrest him but he apparently had departed the venue. Police also spoke with Dirrell and were reviewing security camera video footage regarding a pre-fight incident involving Dirrell.
Dirrell apologized for his uncle after his bout and Russell apologized to fans for the incident after his victory.
“We are warriors and we are gladiators,” Russell said. “Sometimes emotions build up and get the best of us.”