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George: If I Was In Better Shape, I Would’ve Finished Escudero In First Fight

Joseph George doesn’t consider his split-decision victory over Marcos Escudero the least bit controversial.

George is certain that by consistently landing the flusher punches and hurting Escudero multiple times, he deserved to win their 10-round light heavyweight bout November 15 at WinnaVegas Casino Resort in Sloan, Iowa. Judges Bob LaFratte (97-93) and Carlos Sucre (97-94) scored that fight for George, but judge Gloria Martinez gave Escudero credit for winning, 96-94.

Houston’s George even believes he could take the same approach to their 10-round rematch Saturday night and win again.

“I don’t disagree with the judges’ decision,” George said during Showtime’s virtual press conference Thursday. “By me sitting on the ropes and letting him be active a lot, that’s why one of the judges went for him. So, that’s what made it split. Other than that, I have no regrets of how I fought or how the judges [scored it]. I feel like I can do the same thing in this fight, and get the win.”

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Showtime will televise the George-Escudero rematch as the opener of a three-bout broadcast from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. George (10-0, 6 KOs) and Argentina’s Escudero (10-1, 9 KOs) were supposed to fight a second time March 28 at Park MGM in Las Vegas, but that Showtime tripleheader was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Escudero threw many more punches overall in their fight eight months ago, but George was the more accurate puncher and landed the harder shots. The 31-year-old George buzzed Escudero with a right hand in the ninth round as well, but he couldn’t capitalize on hurting his opponent.

“He was OK,” George said. “He had a chin on him. He was in shape, but his punches wasn’t effective. He threw a lot of punches that wasn’t effective at all. My punches, I made sure that they landed, and I hurt him a few times. Couldn’t really finish him. Was on the ropes a lot. I’m comfortable on the ropes, believe it or not. Most people might not like to see me on the ropes or most people might not like to be on the ropes. But it’s different for me.

“This fight will be different in the aspect of me working off the ropes more, instead of sitting and letting him gain momentum with his punches. But last fight, it was just him being in shape, throwing a lot of punches and having a good chin. That’s what stopped him from getting knocked out. I’m pretty sure that if I was in a little more better shape I could’ve finished him. But if I get that opportunity again this fight, I will.”

Escudero hired a new trainer, veteran Kevin Cunningham, following his close loss to George. The 27-year-old Escudero considers Cunningham’s hiring the training change he needed to be better against George this time around.

Showtime’s telecast also will include two 12-round, 122-pound fights after it airs the George-Escudero rematch, starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

In Showtime’s second bout Saturday night, Ra’eese Aleem (16-0, 10 KOs), of Muskegon, Michigan, and Washington, D.C.’s Marcus Bates (11-1-1, 8 KOs) will meet in a WBA super bantamweight elimination match. Aleem beat Bates by unanimous decision in an eight-rounder in April 2018 at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.

Aleem was supposed to fight Tramaine Williams, who was elevated into the main event Wednesday, when Stephen Fulton tested positive for COVID-19. Philadelphia’s Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) and Albuquerque’s Angelo Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) were supposed to fight for the vacant WBO junior featherweight title.

Instead, Williams (19-0, 6 KOs, 1 NC), a southpaw from New Haven, Connecticut, and Leo will fight for the WBO 122-pound championship Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete vacated recently to move up to the featherweight division. 

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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