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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Magsayo in limbo

By Joaquin Henson
08 Feb 2019

WBC No. 1 featherweight Mark Magsayo of Tacloban City, Leyte, hasn’t fought in over a year and the inactivity has resulted in the WBO dropping him from No. 1 to No. 8. If he continues to stay idle, it’s likely the WBC will take away his No. 1 rating, too. Magsayo was once ranked No. 7 by the IBF but now isn’t in the top 10.

As the No. 1 contender, Magsayo is the mandatory challenger of WBC champion Gary Russell, Jr. He’ll lose the right to challenge Russell once he moves down the ratings because of inactivity. Russell, 30, is a southpaw from Washington, D. C. with a 29-1 record, including 17 KOs. Magsayo’s record is 18-0, with 13 KOs. He’s the reigning WBO International featherweight king.

Magsayo, 23, is in court over a contractual dispute with ALA Boxing. He claims his five-year promotional contract with ALA Boxing expired last May but ALA Boxing insists the contract was renewed for another five years. Last September, Magsayo flew to Las Vegas with wife Frances who takes care of his business affairs. He recently signed a contract with Vikram Sivapragasam of Malaysia’s Vladimir Boxing as manager and Cameron Dunkin of Now Boxing as promoter. Dunkin operates out of Las Vegas and his stable includes Nonito Donaire, Jr.

While in Las Vegas, Dunkin arranged fights for Magsayo in Mexico and Texas but neither pushed through. According to Magsayo, his opponents backed out but he was paid a penalty fee. ALA Boxing president Michael Aldeguer said the fights were cancelled because of Magsayo’s contractual issues. ALA has a respected reputation in the US and Mexico. Promoters are hesitant to engage Magsayo out of respect to Aldeguer.

With no fight contract on the table, Magsayo and his wife returned to Manila last Dec. 26. He now trains by himself at the Elorde gym in Gilmore, not knowing when he’ll fight again. Promoters here and abroad aren’t touching him with a 10-foot pole and he’s wasting his prime years as a fighter staying idle.

Magsayo said he receives a monthly salary from Dunkin so there’s always food on the table. But how long will this accommodation last if he doesn’t fight? GAB chairman Abraham Mitra said he has tried to settle the disagreement between Magsayo and ALA but to no avail.

“I tried to intervene at the start but they didn’t want (to reconcile) so that’s why it reached to where it is now,” said Mitra. “(ALA trainer) Edito (Villamor) sounded very hurt when I last talked to him about Mark but I will try again and talk to both. I’ll work on it for the sake of Philippine boxing. Sayang ang potential ni Mark.”

Aldeguer said he hasn’t heard from Magsayo directly since his departure from the ALA camp. “Communication is through our lawyers as the case is in court now,” he said. “What a waste. We started working with (international matchmaker) Sean (Gibbons) together with Sen. Manny (Pacquiao) on putting him in some fight cards but he chose to go the other way. ALA Boxing filed a case with the court and GAB. I think Magsayo did also. Regarding Magsayo’s cancelled fights (in the US and Mexico), the commissions knew he had a pending court case, that’s why he wasn’t allowed to fight.”

Magsayo, however, said he initiated the court proceedings. “Wala na akong contract sa ALA, expired na,” he said. “Ako ang nag-file ng kaso against sa kanila, not the other way around. Sila ang may kaso at hindi ako. Mali ang sinasabi nila sa media. Hindi lang ako sumasagot dahil may respeto ako kay ALA. Hindi ko alam sa kanila kung ano ang hinahabol nila. Ayaw ko ng gulo at ayaw kong manira ng tao. May respeto ako sa ALA dahil may utang na loob ako sa kanila. Pasalamat din ako sa kanila.”

Magsayo said he has no ties with any Filipino promoter at the moment. If he’s offered to fight in the Philippines, he said there won’t be a problem obtaining clearance from Dunkin and Vikram. “Ang misis ko pwede mag-sabi kina Cameron at Vikram dahil co-manager siya,” he said. “Nakakapagsabi siya kung ano gusto ko na offer para sa akin. Pumapayag naman yung dalawa pag gusto ko ang offer. Gusto nila happy ako.”

Magsayo said he signed a five-year contract with ALA when he was 17 in 2013 but that has lapsed. If Magsayo is offered a fight here, he said he’s open to it. The problem is no Filipino promoter is willing to sign him up. “Hindi na rin ako nag-ask sa mga promoter dito, kasi lahat naka-side sa ALA,” he said. “Besides, may contract ako kay Cameron at need din ng go-signal niya.”

When Magsayo was in the US for four months, he said he kept busy in the gym. “Naka-training ako ng maganda at sparring doon,” he said. “Marami akong bago natutunan at malaki ang binayad na penalty sa akin kaya nakabili ako ng lupa. Mayroon na ako napupundar kahit wala pa akong laban. Hindi kagaya dati na wala talaga at pati pamilya ko kawawa.”

Magsayo said Dunkin is working on his next fight and once it’s confirmed, he’ll return to the US. “Inaayos na ni Cameron at di naman ako nila pababayaan,” he said. “May allowance din ako buwan-buwan. Malaki-laki din, nagulat nga ako kasi premyo ko na ‘yun sa ALA dati.”

While Magsayo is in limbo, another Filipino is climbing up the featherweight ranks. Genesis Servania, 27, is now ranked No. 1 by the WBO, No. 5 by the IBF and No. 3 by the WBA. His record is 32-1, with 15 KOs. The only loss was a decision to WBO champion Oscar Valdez whom he floored in the fourth round in Carson City, California, in 2017. Servania will battle undefeated Carlos Castro of Phoenix in a tenner in Fresno on Sunday and a win should seal a rematch with Valdez as mandatory challenger, a position Magsayo would’ve been in if not for his contractual dispute.

Perhaps, the GAB should determine whether or not ALA has an existing promotional contract with Magsayo so the issue doesn’t drag in court. Once that’s determined, the GAB should decide how to reconcile the differences between Magsayo and ALA with the goal of getting the fighter back in the ring as soon as possible.

Photo: Mark Magsayo (C) with promoter Cameron Dunkin (L) and Nonito Donaire Jr.

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