Boxer Gary Russell Jr. had delayed fighting in his home town for the first time until he became a world champion. The wait just got a bit longer for the Capitol Heights featherweight following news that his opponent, Oscar Escandon, was hurt in training camp, thus postponing the World Boxing Council title bout that had been scheduled for March 11 at MGM National Harbor.
Escandon’s promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz, said in a statement that his fighter injured his back and will be out until April. Escandon is the mandatory challenger for Russell’s WBC belt.
The fight was set to be the main event during the first sporting event at the new MGM property that opened on Dec. 8.
A makeup date for the card is to be announced shortly, according to Tom Brown of TGB Promotions.
“It’s definitely irritating,” Russell said. “But injuries happen, especially when you have somebody pushing their body to the limit for a fight that is potentially life changing. It’s disappointing. It might not work out for him because I have a little more time to get ready.”
Russell (27-1, 16 knockouts) won the WBC world championship with a fourth-round knockout of Jhonny Gonzalez on March 28, 2015, in Las Vegas. The speedy southpaw made his first title defense one year later with a second-round knockout of Patrick Hyland at Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut.
The closest Russell, 28, had come to fighting in or around the nation’s capital had been in 2014 when he scored a fourth-round knockout of Miguel Tamayo at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Also to be rescheduled is the co-feature between WBC super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) and top-rated challenger Charles Hatley in a mandatory defense. Charlo claimed the vacant title with an eighth-round knockout of John Jackson in May 2016.
“We’re working with the venue and the network [Showtime] to find the earliest date that we can reschedule the show,” Brown said. “I feel terrible for the fighters who have been training so hard and now have to wait. Gary is really disappointed, but he understands that injuries are all a part of the sport. Gary will be ready to go on the rescheduled date.”