Super Middleweight Contenders
Andre Dirrell & Jose Uzcategui
Battle for Interim World Title May 20th on SHOWTIME
LIVE from MGM National Harbor in Maryland!
(April 17th) An exciting night of action will feature super middleweight contenders Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui in a matchup for the Interim IBF Super Middleweight World Championship plus two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy in a WBA 140-pound world title eliminator against Kiryl Relikh on Saturday, May 20 from the recently opened MGM National Harbor in Maryland and live on SHOWTIME.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast is headlined by WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. making the second defense of his title when he faces top challenger Oscar Escandon.
Top 168-pound contenders Dirrell (25-2, 16 KOs) and Uzcategui (26-1, 22 KOs) are set to meet in a 12-round matchup with the winner in line to face IBF champion James DeGale, who is currently recovering from injuries sustained in his draw against Badou Jack in January on SHOWTIME.
"This fight is a massive step towards my journey to success in 2017," said Dirrell. "To me, this is my championship fight leading up to the rematch with the current champion, James DeGale. Jose has all of the tools of a champion, so he's fierce competition for me. But I will show the world that I'm up for the task. This is my year!"
"I'm very excited to be facing a fighter the quality of Andre Dirrell," said Uzcategui. "These are the types of fights that I've wanted and I look forward to coming out victorious. This fight will be another step on the way to my dream of becoming a world champion."
A world champion at 130 and 135-pounds, Barthelemy (25-0, 13 KOs) and the former world title challenger Relikh (21-1, 19 KOs) will battle in 12 rounds of action for the right to be the mandatory challenger for current WBA Super Lightweight Championship held by unified champion Julius Indongo.
"I'm very excited to be back in the ring, especially on SHOWTIME against a top-ranked contender in Kiryl Relikh," said Barthelemy. "This victory will get me one step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming the first Cuban to win world titles in three different weight classes. I'm very motivated and I will not be denied on May 20."
"I'm thrilled to have this opportunity in a world title eliminator," said Relikh. "Rances Barthelemy is a good fighter, but my experience at this weight will help me get the victory. I'm ready to do whatever it takes to get this win and eventually wear that world title belt around my waist."
Tickets for the live event promoted by TGB Promotions are priced at $200, $150, $100 and $50, and are now on sale. To purchase tickets (click here). The main event is co-promoted by Sampson Boxing. This bout was originally scheduled to take place on March 11 but was rescheduled after Escandon suffered a back injury in training camp. Fans who bought tickets for the March 11 show will have their tickets honored on May 20.
Representing his hometown of Flint, Michigan, Dirrell looks to take one step closer to a rematch with DeGale after dropping a narrow decision to the current IBF champion in May 2015. The 33-year-old bounced back from the defeat in his last outing by earning a wide unanimous decision over Blake Caparello last April. After a decorated amateur career that saw him win two U.S. Amateur World Championships in addition to an Olympic bronze medal, Dirrell was unbeaten in his first 18 pro fights before losing a split decision to Carl Frosh in 2009.
Born in Venezuela, Uzcategui now fights out of Baja California, Mexico, where he won two fights last year by knockout. The 26-year-old shot up the rankings in 2015 when he stopped previously unbeaten Julius Jackson in the second round after knocking his opponent down four times. Uzcategui was undefeated in his first 22 pro fights and enters this bout on a four-fight win streak.
A Cuban amateur national champion, 30-year-old Barthelemy has yet to taste defeat since turning pro in 2009. Born in Cuba but now fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev. he won a super featherweight world title in July 2014 by defeating Argenis Mendez in impressive fashion, and followed that up with a second round TKO victory over Angino Perez. After dominating former champion Antonio DeMarco in June, he won a world title in a second division when he impressively defeated Denis Shafikov in December. Most recently, Barthelemy made the lone defense of his lightweight belt with a decision over former champion Mickey Bey last June.
Fighting out of Minsk, Belarus, Relikh returns to the ring after challenging the former champion Burns for the WBA title in October 2016. The 27-year-old was undefeated after turning pro in 2011 leading up to his world title shot. Relikh owns wins over veteran contenders Christian Ariel Lope, Joaquim Carneiro and Lazaro Santos de Jesus.
Gary Russell Jr. Defends Against Oscar Escandon
May 20th Live on SHOWTIME from MGM National Harbor, MD.
(April 7th) WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. will make the second defense of his title when he faces top challenger Oscar Escandon Saturday, May 20 in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING from the recently opened MGM National Harbor in Maryland live on SHOWTIME.
The Maryland-native Russell Jr. (27-1, 16 KOs) and the WBC Interim Featherweight Champion Escandon (25-2, 17 KOs) will battle in one of boxing's most talented divisions that continues to deliver exciting action fight after fight. A lineup of exciting co-featured attractions will be announced next week.
"I'm a gladiator getting ready for a tough battle," said Russell Jr. "This is going to be a huge night for my family and I'm glad that the time is here. This will be the first time as pros that I get to fight on the same card as both of my little brothers, (unbeaten bantamweight) Gary Antonio and (2016 U.S. Olympian) Gary Antuanne, plus my brother Gary Allan will work all of our corners. We're excited to get in the ring and show the fans what we're capable of doing in the ring."
"I've had to wait for this opportunity to face Gary Russell Jr. and I'm going to take full advantage of it," said Escandon. "It's going to be a great fight and I know the fans are going to get their money's worth. I feel 100 percent healthy and now that the fight is here I am ready to knock him out."
"This is going to be a great night of boxing," said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. "The featherweight division is very hot right now with the recent wins by Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares. There is something very special going on in the division and this will be another memorable fight. Escandon is a tough warrior who has proven time and again that he doesn't care about going on the road or where he fights. There are great boxing fans in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia region and they are in-store for an exciting night on May 20."
A speedy and supremely talented boxer, Russell Jr., was impressive in his fourth-round stoppage of the battle-tested Jhonny Gonzalez that earned him the title in March 2015. The 2008 U.S. Olympian had scored important victories over Vyacheslav Gusev, Juan Ruiz and Miguel Tamayo before losing a majority decision to Vasyl Lomachenko for the WBO 126-pound title in June 2014. The southpaw, of Capitol Heights, Md., most recently scored a dominant second-round TKO victory over Patrick Hyland in his first title defense in April 2016.
Fighting out of Ibague, Colombia, Escandon turned pro in 2008 and was undefeated in his first 22 professional bouts. Escandon won an interim world title at super bantamweight in 2014 when he defeated Tyson Cave in his U.S. debut. He earned his shot at Russell Jr. last March when he survived an early knockdown to score a knockout victory over Robinson Castellanos in the seventh round of their showdown in Washington, D.C.