NATIONAL HARBOR - Featherweight world champion Gary Russell Jr. and top challenger Oscar Escandon went face-to-face Thursday at the final press conference before they square-off in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING this Saturday, May 20 from MGM National Harbor in Maryland.
Also in attendance at Thursday's press conference and competing in action on SHOWTIME were super middleweight contenders Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui, who battle for the IBF Super Middleweight World Championship, plus two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy and former title challenger Kiryl Relikh, who meet in a 140-pound title eliminator. The telecast begins at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT with Gervonta Davis putting his IBF Jr. Lightweight Title on the line against Liam Walsh from Copper Box Arena in London.
Tickets for the live event at MGM National Harbor, promoted by TGB Promotions, are priced at $200, $150, $100 and $50, and are now on sale. To purchase tickets go to http://mgmnationalharbor.com/.
Russell Jr. was joined by his brothers, 2016 U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell and unbeaten prospect Gary Antonio Russell, as the trio of brothers look to pick up a hat trick of victories in their hometown Saturday night and on the birthday of their father and trainer, Gary Russell Sr.
Here is what the participants had to say Thursday from MGM National Harbor:
GARY RUSSELL JR.
"I never magnify an event, even though it's at home. The end objective is still the same. But I think it's cool that everyone in our neighborhood has the opportunity to be in the arena and see what we do.
"I'm 100 percent physically and mentally ready for the challenge and I'm on top of everything I can be.
"When you get caught up in the hype, it's a deficiency in yourself. You have to be able to focus on the objective over everything else.
"I believe in my ability but also the ability of my brothers. So I'm not nervous for them. I know what they've been taught. They conduct themselves like young men in and out of the ring.
"I want a unification bout after this. I'm ready for any of the other world champions. We can line them all up in the same night if you want. If I can't get those fights, I'm going to move up in weight and bully around these bigger guys.
"I look at each fighter as their own individual. We don't prepare the same way for every opponent. He's a tough fighter who comes forward. He's very physical and I expect him to be at his best on Saturday. It's up to me to counteract what he does.
"I love this sport. I love what I do. I love being able to prepare for no one else, but the person across the ring and then dismantling him.
"We worked on versatility most. We believe in the sweet science. A lot of these guys just win because they're stronger and faster. We want to be more technically sound too."
"This is a very important fight for my career. This is going to elevate me to where I want to be and give me the platform to do anything in the sport. I'm very well prepared for this.
"I feel strong and healthy at 126-pounds. I'm focused on this fight Saturday night. I'll fight anyone but right now I have to get past Gary Russell Jr.
"In my last fight I was the underdog. People counted me out. Same thing applies here. I've done the work and I'm confident that I'm going to win.
"I didn't have complete training camps with my past trainers, but now I'm with Ruben Guerrero. I'm learning so much. You can look at me in my previous fights and you'll see a vast improvement now.
"I want that green (WBC) belt a lot. Green is my favorite color. I want to be the best and to me, winning that title signifies that I am the best. To do that I have to beat the best, and that is Gary Russell Jr.
"I don't like to talk much but I will say that I'm coming to bring this world title back to Colombia. I respect Gary but my mindset is that I'm taking this title home."