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Breakdown: Gary Russell Jr. vs. Oscar Escandon fight preview and prediction

Gary Russell Jr. is in action headlining a four fight card on Showtime. Get the details on the fight here in our breakdown.

Gary Russell Jr. v Patrick Hyland Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Saturday is a big day of fights, with cards from both Showtime and HBO. Headlining for Showtime is a world title fight pitting Gary Russell, Jr. (27-1; 16 KO) against Oscar Escandon (25-2; 17 KO). This is a 126 pound fight for Russell’s WBC Featherweight title. Ring Magazine rates the champ at #2 in the division with Escandon unranked. The fight will air live on Showtime this Saturday, May 20 with a fight time of 6:00 p.m. ET for the full card. Also included on the broadcast are Andre Dirrell vs. Jose Uzcategui, Rances Barthelemy vs. Kiryl Relikh, and Gervonta Davis vs. Liam Walsh - look for a separate Davis vs. Walsh preview later this week.

How do these two stack up?
Russell: 28 years old | 5’4” | 64" reach | southpaw stance
Escandon: 32 years old | 5’1" | 66" reach | orthodox stance

What have these two done recently?
Russell: W - Patrick Hyland (KO) | W - Jhonny Gonzalez (TKO) | W - Christopher Martin (UD)
Escandon: W - Robinson Castellanos (KO) | L - Moises Flores (SD) | W - Tyson Cave (SD)

How did these two get here?

For my money, Gary Russell Jr. is one of the better technical boxers in the sport today, though I know that is not an opinion everyone shares. After a strong amateur career, Russell came to the professional ranks as a highly regarded prospect. Russell claimed his first world title with his 2015 stoppage win over Jhonny Gonzalez. His lone loss is a decision defeat at the hands of Vasyl Lomachenko. There should be no shame there, but Russell has not won himself many supporters through his constant calling out of Lomachenko, and some less impressive names on his resume. When he’s on, he’s got fast hands and great combos - against Lomachenko though, we saw none of that. Russell says he wants to be his best and unify world titles as much as he can. It’s up to you how much you believe that. Whether that is truly his goal or not, he really needs to get a big name across the ring again, and soon.

Oscar Escandon is a Colombian boxer who, like Russell, came to the pros after a good amateur career. His best win is a 2011 defeat of Jesus Cueller, but outside of that, there’s not much to his record. He has a lot of fights in Colombia against opponents with records like 6-32-2 or 12-31-1. Where Russell is the WBC Featherweight champion, Escandon holds the WBC “Interim” Featherweight title - a completely unnecessary title, but this is boxing. It’s that belt that has earned him this shot, making this a unification fight if you are feeling generous. He’s been mostly inactive lately, last fighting in March 2016, and before that in April 2015.

What can fans expect?

Aldo vs. Holloway this is not. What is on paper a unification fight is in reality just a formality for one of the alphabet organizations to get rid of their interim title and beef up Russell’s resume just a bit more. In Russell you have a fighter who at times looks like one of the sport’s best - in Escandon you have an opponent. Nothing more, nothing less. Russell has looked great in his last two fights, finishing both by big stoppage. Yes, neither was a world class opponent, but then again, neither is Escandon. Expect Russell to be aggressive, come out not just to win but to impress, and get the relatively easy KO victory.

Prediction: Russell, KO, R4

Who should watch?

Russell remains a bit of an enigma as to just how good he is - this fight probably won’t answer those questions, but I enjoy watching him perform at his best, and this is a good platform to do just that.

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