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MARK MAGSAYO: ALA GYM'S BEST KEPT SECRET REVEALED


PhilBoxing.com




Through the first four rounds Saturday night in Davao City, Mark Magsayo was tight and listless, his timing was off and his punches were out of range. Magsayo, 19, who racked nine straight wins with seven stoppages prior to Saturday's bout, was into his first big test, squaring off against the bull-strong former PABA champion Sukkasem Kietyongyuth of Thailand (13-4-0, 8KO) who was able to tag him with head and body shots and appeared highly capable of derailing the former decorated amateur fighter from Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

Magsayo came into the fight with very high expectations. Indeed, the night he first climbed into the ring as a professional against Melton Sandal on May 25, 2013, the sky high expectations were already there. And these were for very good reasons – aside from excelling as an amateur, Magasayo dominated everyone, without exception – that he had sparred to at the highly competitive stable of boxers at the famed ALA Gym in Cebu. A few of these sparring sessions we had the privilege to witness in person. One time, Magasayo sparred against the highly popular Rey 'Boom-Boom' Bautista who at one time hall-of-fame trainer Freddie Roach commented that “he (Bautista) wants to kill his sparring partners”, could not touch at all Magsayo who peppered without letup Bautista's reddened face.

“No one can touch him at the ALA Gym,” is the oft-repeated line you will hear from the ALA insiders referring to Boholano teenager. “And he was the only one who was able to touch Aleye,” is another line you hear referring to how Magasayo was able to control the very sleek Cuban boxer Reymi Castellano Aleye who for some time trained at the ALA Gym and fought in some ALA promoted events and who fights in the mold of another Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux.

“In more than 40 years that he was involved in boxing, my father said he had never seen a talent like Mark Magsayo,” ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer said referring to his highly regarded father, Antonio, who molded the ALA Gym to what it is now today.

PHOTOS BY DONG SECUYA.


Sukkasem connects to the body of Magsayo.


Sukkasem tackles Magsayo to the canvas.


Magsayo connects.


Magsayo scores first knockdown.


Magsayo runs to a neutral corner as the referee prevents Sukkasem from falling out of the ring.

I first saw Magsayo spar while he was still an amateur against the rising Genesis Servania who at that point caught the public's eye with impressive wins against Genaro Garcia, Jorge Pazos and Angky Angkota. In an unexpected twist, I was more impressed with Magsayo than Servania after that sparring and I wrote an accolade on Magsayo here. In conversations with boxing friends in gatherings, I would often tell them that after the Pacquiao era, after Donaire, Nietes and Viloria, I could only see a couple of boxers who have the potential to takeover Philippine boxing: one is Marvin Sonsona, if he is able to focus himself on boxing, and the other one is Mark Jessel Magsayo.

Midway through the 4th round Saturday night against the Thai boxer cum muay thai fighter who tackled hard Magsayo to the canvas in the second round, it was rather unsettling to see Magsayo failed to dominate his opponent.

“He's quite tense,” I told trainer Edmund Villamor who was standing beside me in Magsayo's corner as I was taking photos of the fight. “He wants to score a knockout quickly,” Villamor, who was watching intently the proceedings inside the ring, retorted.

Whatever Villamor told Magsayo during the break seemed to be working as Magsayo's demeanor change as the fifth round contest progresses. He seemed to be more relaxed now, picking his shots as they circled inside the ring and then suddenly, he met Sukkasem in the center of the ring, planted his feet, blocked the Thai's looping overhands then threw a combination down and up, and down goes Sukkasem. The startled Thai got up quickly for the count. However, a two-fisted barrage unleashed by Magsayo sent down to the canvas for the second time Sukkasem who almost went out of the ropes as the referee stopped the contest for a TKO victory by Magsayo.

“He is still young and gets nervous,” the elder Aldeguer, who saw Magsayo boxed and grew up in his gym since Magsayo was eight years old, said after the fight. “He'll now be fighting in the States,” Aldeguer added.

From now on, it only gets bigger for Magsayo, now 10-0 with 8 knockouts, who choose to fight in the professional ranks instead of being a mainstay of the Philippine amateur boxing national pool. Magsayo has been tabbed to fight in the ALA promoted card in the US in May or June this year either in San Diego or San Mateo in California, according to ALA Promotions Vice-President Dennis Canete.

With the competition undoubtedly getting better and the limelight getting larger, it remains to be seen if this two-fisted dynamo from Bohol is up to the challenge.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Dong Secuya.


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