Magsayo, PH’s 5th current world boxing champ
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
WE, diehard boxing aficionados, watched the YouTube coverage of the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title battle between Filipino number one world contender Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo against the reigning and defending champ Gary Russel, Jr. last Sunday (January 23) held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This latest victory of Magsayo, again put the Philippines in the limelight in professional world boxing. His victory made PH gain a world record of five current world boxing champions – Nonito Donaire, Jr. (WBC bantamweight), Jerwin Ancajas (IBF junior bantamweight), Johnriel Casimero (WBO bantamweight) and Rene Cuatro (IBF minimum weight).
Despite being undefeated after 23 fights with 16 stoppages, the 26-year-old Tagbilaran City-born Magsayo was the underdog prior to the fight. I guess the reported right shoulder injury (if it’s true) and the more than a year inactivity of Russel enabled Magsayo to outpoint the American southpaw world champ via majority decision. That became obvious after the fourth round when Russel never-ever threw any combination of punches that he usually did like during his last fight last February 2020 when he beat Tugstsogt Nyambayar of Mongolia via unanimous decision. I watched that too. In fact, not everyone inside the venue or those that watched it on YouTube like me, were pleased with the performance of Magsayo, fighting a one-armed warrior unimpressively. It was unlike what he did to Mexican Julio Ceja last August whom he knocked out on the 10th round. That victory by Magsayo catapulted him to be WBC’s number one contender that mandated him to fight the 33-year-old Russel. I believe that sans the injury suffered by Russel, it could have been a different story. I could be wrong but I think I’m not. Admittedly, the major plus points of Magsayo were his uppercuts and right hooks which he earlier applied to Ceja that turned to be effective. But it was different for Russel, he took the punches and rolled with then.
Russel demanded for a return bout right away despite knowing that a rematch clause is not going to happen soon. Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions who now handles Magsayo’s fights headed by Sean Gibbons, is not inclined to give a rematch but instead seeks a unification battle against Mexican’s World Boxing Association (WBA) champ Leo Santa Cruz or World Boxing Organization (WBO) king Emmanuel Navarette or even the International Boxing Federation (IBF) title holder Kiko Martinez. Yes, it may not bode well for Magsayo as maintained by some promoters because remember that Mexicans are the perennial arch rivals of Filipino boxers in any lower weight divisions.
Magsayo, who almost quit his sport during the pandemic because of idleness, was saved by Pacquiao because of his potentials. He celebrated his victory, thanking his promoters, supporters especially the Filipino fans that watched his fight in the flesh. He proudly proclaimed, “This is my dream and my dream did come true. I’m so proud, I’m a champion now.” Pacquiao, too, was so elated and quickly tweeted him to say, “Welcome to the club.”
A rematch against Russel, 30-2, is always a big possibility but I believe Magsayo has to fight first his co-champions in the other organizations obviously for more lucrative purses, assuming that Magsayo maintains his supremacy as a reigning champ. Anyway, he’s still young and can accomplish what Pacquiao did to become the only eight-world division champion the globe ever produced. Yes, Magsayo is at the prime of his career.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 CHRONICLES 7: 14
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