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Dangerous foe likely for Magsayo


PhilBoxing.com



Mark Magsayo (right) and JohnRiel Casimero in Redondo Beach, near L. A., on a fishing expedition.

A fighter who sent an opponent to a hospital and into retirement three years ago is likely to face IBF No. 4 featherweight Mark Magsayo of Tacloban in a 10-rounder in Los Angeles on Sept. 23 but while the fight has still to be confirmed by MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, the Filipino banger known as “Magnifico” is stepping up his training with strength/conditioning coach Justin Fortune and Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym.

The probable adversary is Mexican-American Jose (Pepito) Haro who in 2017, halted Daniel Franco in the eighth round to capture the vacant United States Boxing Association featherweight crown in Iowa. Franco was brought out of the ring on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to drain two blood clots in the brain. A portion of Franco’s skull was removed as he was placed in a medically-induced coma for two weeks. Franco survived but will never fight again.

Haro, 33, is called “Hard Luck.” When he was 12, his father caught him shoplifting a Twix candy bar and a bag of Reese’s Pieces from a store and brought him to the gym to learn discipline. In the gym, Haro was introduced to boxing and became a Junior Olympian on the way to turning pro in 2010 with younger brother Eric as trainer. While boxing, Haro worked as a Pepsi delivery man, bringing cases to supermarkets from 3 a.m to 12 noon five days a week. His ring career was stalled in 2015 when he was shot in both feet by a gunman for no apparent reason at a Walmart parking lot. The gunman was sentenced to nine to 15 years in jail. Haro was back in the ring after six months. Another bad break was a running accident where Haro broke his left foot which now has a screw. Despite the hardships, Haro is relentless in pursuing his boxing career for his wife Yesenia and their five children.

Haro had nearly a three-year layoff after the Franco tragedy then returned to action last Feb. 29, outpointing Genaro Rodriguez in a sixer in Tijuana. It was Haro’s seventh straight win since 2015 as he raised his record to 15-1-1, with 8 KOs. Magsayo’s record is 20-0, with 14 KOs.

Magsayo, 25, arrived in Los Angeles from Manila last July 1 and lives in an apartment at the back of the Wild Card Gym, provided by Gibbons. Every morning, he trains with Fortune and in the afternoon, he reports to Roach for private sessions. “Mark’s a good kid and a hard worker,” said Fortune. “Haro’s a tough guy but Mark’s tougher and a much bigger puncher.” At Wild Card, Magsayo has sparred with Armenian Azat (Crazy A) Hovhannisyan, a one-time world title challenger who knocked out Filipinos Glenn Porras and Lolita Sonsona last year.

When Magsayo and his wife Frances landed in L. A., Gibbons arranged for COVID-19 tests and they both tested negative. “Hindi kami namamasyal, gym bahay gym lang kami,” said Magsayo. “Super safe ang lugar namin, maganda at tahimik. Kay Sir Justin, conditioning kami 6 a.m., exactly one hour pero non-stop, tuluy-tuloy, water break lang tapos balik kaagad. Kung minsan, sa rooftop ng gym ni Sir Justin, kung minsan takbo kami sa UCLA. Training kami ni coach Freddie sa Wild Card umpisa 2 p.m., mga two hours, mitts, bagging, correct mistakes ko at may sparring din.”

Last Saturday, Magsayo took a break and went fishing at Redondo Beach, a 30-minute drive from downtown L. A. Coincidentally, WBO bantamweight champion JohnRiel Casimero and trainer Sugar Ting Ariosa drove in from Las Vegas to go fishing, too, and met up with Magsayo. “Nagkataon lang nagkita kami ni Casimero,” said Magsayo. “Nag-fishing ako late dahil ayaw kong maraming tao. Sabi ko kay Casimero, ma-swerte na champion siya at any fight OK lang kasi takot si (Naoya) Inoue sa kaniya kaya sulitin na kahit anong laban.” Magsayo caught five mackerels and cooked the fresh fish for dinner.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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