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Magsayo awaits new foe


PhilBoxing.com



Magsayo (L) with trainer Freddie Roach.

IBF No. 4 featherweight Mark Magsayo will face a still unidentified opponent at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Oct. 3 but couldn’t care less whom he battles after original foe Jose Haro backed out a few days ago. He continues to train with Freddie Roach and strength/conditioning coach Justin Fortune, staying focused in the gym since landing in L. A. from Manila last July.

Haro’s withdrawal came as a surprise, what with the fight set less than three weeks away. He released a six-minute video on his Facebook page, reading a three-page essay to explain his decision. Haro, 33, said he’s hanging up his gloves after three of his six children begged him to retire from the ring. In the video, he disclosed that he tested positive for COVID-19 about two months back but has been cleared by doctors to return to the gym.

Haro said it all started with a mild cold and his wife Yesenia Bautista suggested to take a COVID-19 test. After the result turned out positive, Haro was told his sparring partner was also infected. Haro kept his condition secret. Although now virus-free, Haro said he’s still feeling a bit under the weather with a headache and stuffy nose. Haro’s wife, a nurse, is expecting to deliver their seventh child, a girl, in November and the fighter said “I’m happy I’m leaving (boxing) with good health to enjoy life with my family.” He said “it breaks my heart having to say this, I’ll never fight again.” The appointment with Magsayo was initially scheduled on Sept. 23 and when it was reset to Oct. 3, Haro took the postponement as a sign to walk away.

MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said Haro should never have agreed to fight Magsayo. Or he should’ve backed out when he tested positive so Gibbons would’ve had over two months to look for a replacement. “I’m looking frantically for another opponent,” Gibbons said yesterday. Magsayo, however, is unperturbed. “Okay lang sa akin, kahit sino kalaban,” he messaged from L. A. “Tuloy pa rin ang training.” Magsayo said he has sparred over 50 rounds since arriving in the US and is doing up to eight rounds a session, working with a rotation of four fighters including Armenian superbantamweight Azat Hovhannisyan. He also sparred with former WBC superlightweight champion Viktor Postol before the Ukrainian fought Jose Carlos Ramirez last month. Magsayo said Roach recently added a Mexican, whom he described as bigger than him, in the sparring rotation.

The coming bout will be Magsayo’s first since joining the MP stable this year. Gibbons recently revealed that he could’ve arranged for Magsayo to fight for the world title on Sept. 19 but hedged to give the Tacloban slugger a chance to prove himself in a tune-up. The ultimate goal is for Magsayo, 25, to challenge WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell, Jr. who’s tied up with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions stable. Magsayo’s record is 20-0, with 14 KOs while Russell’s mark is 31-1, with 18 KOs. Russell, 32, won the WBC 126-pound crown in 2015 and has since compiled five successful defenses.


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


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