Russell Stops Escandon to Retain WBC Featherweight Belt

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Gary Russell Jr. began his first hometown fight night by manning his brothers’ corners.

He closed it with an apology for the near-melee created by super middleweight Andre Dirrell’s trainer in the co-featured bout.

In between, he made easy work of Oscar Escandon, stopping him in the seventh round to successfully defend his WBC featherweight title for the second time.

“I knew Escandon wanted to come and bring his best,” Russell said. “I was ready for him.”

Earlier, Dirrell won the IBF interim super middleweight title by disqualification over Jose Uzcategui in a bout overshadowed by Dirrell trainer Leon Lawson Jr. throwing a series of punches at Uzcategui following the fight.

“I want to apologize for the gladiators,” Russell said. “The Dirrell camp, sometimes emotions build up and take the best of us. Please forgive them.”

Russell (28-1, 17 KOs) also floored Escandon (25-3) early in the third round.

The victory came more than a year after his last, and completed a sibling sweep at the MGM National Harbor just miles from his hometown of Capitol Heights.

Brothers Gary Antuanne Russell and Gary Antonio Russell won their fights on the undercard. The brothers are trained by father Gary Russell Sr.

“I’m ecstatic,” the father said. “I got three wins. Three stoppages. It’s my birthday. I’m 15 minutes from home and I can go home and relax.”

After controlling the first two rounds, Russell knocked down the Colombian with a right hook seconds into the third.

Russell stayed on the attack as the round resumed, and appeared to be close to another knockdown before the round ended, but Escandon survived without further damage.

It was another right hook that sent Escandon backpedaling four rounds later. This time, referee Harvey Dock immediately intervened.

“I didn’t see him coming with the big punch he threw at the end and that was it,” Escandon said through an interpreter. “I went down and was hoping to get a 10 count but the referee didn’t give it to me and he stopped the fight.”

Uzcategui (26-2) sent Dirrell (26-2) to the the canvas with a combination that referee Bill Clancy ruled came after the bell. Uzcategui led on two of three judges’ scorecards at the time, and was tied on the other.

Medical staff examined Dirrell, who eventually got to his feet and hugged Uzcategui and his camp. Moments later, Dirrell’s uncle and trainer Lawson attacked Uzcategui, who had to be restrained from retaliating and was eventually rushed out of the arena.

Local police are seeking Lawson for questioning.

“I’m sorry for what my coach has done,” Dirrell said. “My coach is my family, my uncle, and he was worried. He cares for me. He loves me. Please forgive him.”

Rances Barthelemy (26-0) beat Kirill Relikh (25-3) my unanimous decision in a WBA super lightweight eliminator.

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