Results from Showtime’s Night of Fights

By Caryn A. Tate on May 20, 2017
Results from Showtime’s Night of Fights
“We’re fighters, we’re gladiators, and sometimes the emotions can build up.” (UPI Photo)

In the main event, WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. faced challenger and interim titleholder Oscar Escandon…

In the first bout of the evening from the MGM National Harbor outside Washington, DC, Rances Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs) took on Kiryl Relikh (21-2, 19 KOs) in a title eliminator. It was an entertaining fight, and fairly closely contested, with Barthelemy winning a fair unanimous decision, though one card (117-109) was absurd. But after seeing how Relikh gave Barthelemy so much trouble, one has to wonder if perhaps Barthelemy isn’t carrying the same power into this higher weight class. His punches didn’t appear to get Relikh’s attention the way they used to in the smaller divisions.

In a closely contested fight while it lasted, Andre Dirrell (26-2, 16 KOs) took on Jose Uzcategui (26-2, 22 KOs) in an IBF super middleweight title eliminator.

Uzcategui captured an early lead with impressive sharp punching and tight technique. Prior to the bout, some said that the Venezuelan was a heavy puncher, but in this fight he showed much more than that. In round 2, he staggered Dirrell and the Olympic bronze medalist looked ready to go down, but was able to survive. At the end of the round, Uzcategui landed a clean shot upstairs clearly after the bell, and referee Bill Clancy wasn’t positioned properly to ensure he could stop punches from landing after the bell.

By round 5, Dirrell seemed to have figured out Uzcategui’s timing. He began regularly keeping his jab out there, and his opponent seemed unsure. Through the middle rounds, Dirrell looked loose and comfortable, while Uzcategui looked a bit at a loss. Dirrell’s superior movement and ring IQ began to show as Dirrell pulled ahead.

At the end of round 8, Uzcategui was throwing a combination. The referee warned the fighters to stop punching at the bell. The bell rang, Clancy again wasn’t in proper position, and Uzcategui landed a punch that dropped Dirrell. Andre was clearly hurt and seemed unable to get up. He looked dazed, though he did respond in the affirmative when the referee asked him if he was all right. But soon his condition appeared to worsen as he lay down on the canvas, still looking dazed.

Clancy ruled Dirrell the winner by disqualification. As he explained to Showtime’s Jim Gray afterward, Uzcategui knocked Dirrell out with a punch that landed after the bell. It’s always nearly impossible to tell whether fouls are intentional, but it looked like Uzcategui was in the middle of throwing a combination when the bell rang and that it was an accident. The bigger issue is why Clancy wasn’t in proper position to grab Uzcategui and pull him away from Dirrell when the bell sounded, particularly since the Venezuelan had already thrown a punch after the bell earlier in the fight.

The frightening situation brought back memories of when Dirrell fought Arthur Abraham in March 2010, when Abraham clearly landed a punch after Dirrell was down. It is shameful that Andre has been forced to deal with these types of fouls more than once in his career.

Chaos ensued when one of Andre Dirrell’s cornermen, later revealed to be his uncle, attacked Uzcategui and landed a couple of hard punches to the face. Both corners went at it and had to be separated. Dirrell’s brother, boxer Anthony Dirrell, was shown on camera at one point outside the ring having an understandably emotional reaction to what happened to his brother in the ring.

Later, Jim Gray told Showtime viewers that the Maryland police were looking for Dirrell’s uncle and that he would be arrested. He also stated that Anthony Dirrell was being questioned and that police were viewing surveillance footage on him as they had “heard” he had assaulted a commission member.

It was an unfortunate and messy situation, and one that could likely have been avoided. It’s understandable that the uncle of Dirrell be arrested, since he committed physical assault. But regarding Anthony Dirrell, unless he did something we didn’t see on the Showtime broadcast, there is absolutely no reason for police to detain him since it appears all he was guilty of was pitching an understandable fit.

Much more troubling still was the fact that many viewers seemed more upset (or perhaps distracted) by what Dirrell’s uncle had done than by the foul that disqualified Uzcategui. It’s truly disappointing considering that foul, intentional or not, could have seriously hurt Dirrell, like the Abraham foul did years ago.

In the main event, WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) faced challenger and interim titleholder Oscar Escandon (25-3, 17 KOs). From the start of round 1, Russell was clearly more comfortable and more active than the challenger. Russell’s superior handspeed was obvious, and his highly superior work rate was on display from the start. Escandon seemed overwhelmed but kept trying.

Russell stayed in the pocket and seemed to enjoy exchanging with Escandon, though the challenger’s punches were almost entirely blocked or smothered by Russell.

The champion looked impressive, and aside from his superior boxing technique, he also showed some impressive inside game. At one point Escandon held Russell’s left arm with his right, and Russell wailed away at Oscar with his left. Referee Harvey Dock separated the fighters unnecessarily, but the challenger was beginning to question holding onto Russell’s other arm.

In round 3, Russell dropped Escandon and clearly hurt him. Escandon’s legs were shaky but he showed real heart by hanging in, fighting back, and really trying to throw fire back at Russell to keep him off. But Russell kept unloading power shots that shook Escandon again, after he had seemed to get his legs back under him. At the end of the round, Escandon walked to the neutral corner before Dock directed him back to his own corner.

At the beginning of the fourth, Russell banged his gloves together as if eager to get back to it. But Escandon showed a lot of heart and made it a challenge for the champion at times.

It was clear that Escandon was the larger fighter. He looked a lot thicker around than Russell, and according to Showtime, Russell only put on about five pounds since the weigh-in, while Escandon put on about 10 pounds. Perhaps that was part of Escandon’s gameplan, since he’s more of a puncher, but it didn’t do him many favors in the end since being more immobile in the face of Russell’s speed and activity wasn’t a good idea.

In the middle rounds, Escandon really came on and impressed with his determination. It wasn’t enough, as Russell was still the sharper and better technical fighter. Russell had particular success with the uppercut, and Escandon seemed unprepared to defend against that shot.

In the seventh round, Russell again obviously hurt Escandon and knocked him back against the ropes. It looked like Oscar was going to take a knee, but instead Harvey Dock immediately called the fight. It seemed like a bit of a quick stoppage in the absence of a count. On the other hand, Escandon had taken a lot of hard punches all night, so perhaps Dock felt he’d taken enough. It wasn’t a horrible stoppage but not a great one, either.

It was an impressive performance by Russell, particularly since he hadn’t fought since April of 2016. He showed little to no ring rust and, along with Escandon, put on an excellent show for the fans.

Russell apologized, on behalf of fighters, to the fans in his post-fight interview regarding what had happened in the Dirrell-Uzcategui fight. He explained that “we’re fighters, we’re gladiators, and sometimes the emotions can build up.” It was a kind, and refreshing, display of sportsmanship and a thoughtful olive branch of sorts to the upset fans from earlier in the night.

“I want to end my career with Mr. Lomachenko,” stated Russell after the bout, referring to his long-desired rematch with Vasyl Lomachenko, who handed Russell his first loss. He also mentioned several other top fighters in the division, including Lee Selby, Abner Mares, and Leo Santa Cruz. Let’s also not forget about former champion Carl Frampton. It’s a talent-rich division, and seeing Russell in with any of these other top fighters in the featherweight division would be a big win for boxing fans.

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  1. nonprophet 05:46am, 05/22/2017

    Brookies in a bunch again, eh Irish Frankie?  Whine on doctor.  Your diagnosis of Dirrell’s condition was….spot “off” .... as usual.

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:19am, 05/22/2017

    Uzcategui gets KO Gamed by a 300 lb plus “justified” moron and Bernstein calls it “inappropriate” gotta’ love this liberal shit talk….you just gotta’ love it!

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:13am, 05/21/2017

    The best fight of the night was Bernstein’s hissy fit when butthead Ranallo bugged Al once again by intimating that Bernstein came up with one of his Keys to Victory (uppercuts) after the fight was well underway. Would love to see these two rolling around on the floor at ringside scratching, biting and pulling hair!

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:38am, 05/21/2017

    Caryn Tate-Your attention to detail is a thing of beauty…..but you consistently draw the wrong conclusions. Relikh outworked and outlanded Rances in 10 of the twelve rounds. Kid Blast should have had points deducted for intentional low blows and you say the decision was “fair”. Rances has the same shitty habit that Casamajor had of intentionally hitting below the belt when they are in trouble. .

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:43am, 05/21/2017

    Caryn Tate-Dirrell’s condition took a decided turn for the worse when fat ass Clancy gave him a head’s up that he was going to DQ Uzcategui. You and Bernstein are a pair….he says Dirrell’s uncle’s sucker punching was “inappropriate” and you decide that the brother’s shit fit at ringside which could have caused a riot was “understandable”.