By Keith Idec
Gary Russell Jr. will have to wait a little longer to fight again.
The WBC world featherweight champion’s lengthy layoff, already approaching a year, was extended Tuesday because the opponent he was supposed to meet March 11, Oscar Escandon, has suffered a back injury. Escandon’s injury caused the entire card to be postponed.
The Russell-Escandon fight was set to headline the first boxing card at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a new casino resort just outside Washington, D.C. Russell (27-1, 16 KOs) is from nearby Capitol Heights, Maryland.
Russell-Escandon also was supposed to be the main event of a Showtime doubleheader that night. Houston’s Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) was set to make a mandatory defense of his WBC world super welterweight title against Dallas’ Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs) in the co-featured fight that night.
Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager for Showtime Sports, told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he intends for the network to televise the doubleheader at a later date. The new date, according to Espinoza, will depend upon how long it takes Escandon (25-2, 17 KOs) to recover from the back injury he suffered a couple weeks ago in training camp.
Russell, a talented 2008 Olympian, hasn’t fought since he stopped Ireland’s Patrick Hyland (31-3, 15 KOs) in the second round of their title fight April 16 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. The southpaw’s easy victory over Hyland has been his only fight since Russell knocked out Mexico’s Jhonny Gonzalez (62-10, 52 KOs) in the fourth round to win the WBC 126-pound championship in March 2015 in Las Vegas.
The 28-year-old Russell first was supposed to encounter Escandon in November 2015, but Russell suffered a cut during sparring and their fight was canceled.
Colombia’s Escandon also has been plagued by inactivity. He has fought just once since losing a split decision to Mexico’s Moises Flores (25-0, 17 KOs, 1 NC) in April 2015.
Escandon won the WBC interim featherweight title in that bout by knocking out Mexico’s Robinson Castellanos (23-12, 13 KOs) in the seventh round last March 5 in Washington, D.C.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.