GARY RUSSELL JNR (26-1, 15 KOs) will make the first defense of his WBC Featherweight World Title when he takes on Oscar Escandón (24-2, 16 KOs) on Saturday, November 14 from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, live on Showtime (10:45 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).
“It’s going to take all of my skills and my whole arsenal to defend my belt on November 14,” said Russell Jr. “Escandón is a strong, durable fighter with a lot of power. I will have to be on my A-game and I believe I will be able to showcase my skills when I get in the ring.”
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to fight Gary Russell Jr. for his world title,” said Oscar Escandón. “I feel strong going into this fight. Moving up to featherweight has given me the added weight to be at my full strength. I’ve been training hard with Ruben Guerrero, who’s been doing a great job preparing me for Russell’s southpaw attack. I guarantee that I’m going to make it a rough fight.”
“Gary Russell Jnr is one of the sports brightest young stars,” said Tom Brown of TGB Promotions. “Winning the featherweight world title against Jhonny Gonzalez was an outstanding feat and he’s chosen a very tough initial defense against the heavy handed Oscar Escandón. We’re very excited to work with the great teams at SHOWTIME and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on this terrific event.”
The evening’s co-main event will be announced shortly, as will the full undercard of action.
Russell, of Capitol Heights, Md., makes his first start since dethroning defending champion Jhonny Gonzalez via fourth round TKO in March in Las Vegas. The talented and quick-fisted southpaw dropped the veteran Gonzalez three times en route to capturing his first world title. The only blemish on the record of the 2008 U.S. Olympian is a close majority decision loss to Vasyl Lomachenko in a bout for a vacant world championship in June of 2014.
Escandón, of Ibague, Colombia, is a former interim WBA World Super Bantamweight titlist – he lost the belt in April in a close, split decision to Moises Flores at StubHub Center but complained after the loss that a broken finger in his right hand prevented him from throwing any meaningful punches. A former amateur standout who represented his native Colombia in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Escandón won his U.S. debut and the interim WBA belt with a 12-round split decision over Tyson Cave last December. He has knocked out 10 of his last 14 opponents and is trained by Ruben Guerrero, father of long-time welterweight contender Robert Guerrero.
Escandón, who holds a career-best seventh-round TKO over then-undefeated Jesus Cuellar in 2011, will be making his third consecutive start in the U.S. as he moves up in weight to 126 pounds to challenge Russell Jr.