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What’s next for Magsayo?


PhilBoxing.com




Now that the WBC featherweight title belt is safely around his waist, Mark Magsayo isn’t in a hurry to make his first defense or try to unify the championship for another strap. Magnifico is enjoying the moment, celebrating, playing with the snow he’s seeing for the first time and experiencing cold like never before. It’s freezing in the East Coast and in New Jersey where his fight against Gary Russell, Jr. was held Saturday night, temperature dropped to 10 degrees Fahrenheit or -12 degrees Celsius over the weekend.

Russell said he wants a rematch to prove Magsayo’s win was a fluke since his shoulder was injured in the fourth round and the dethroned titlist fought one-armed the rest of the way. The sore loser claimed the injury goes back to the 2008 Olympics which incidentally, he failed to participate in because he was severely dehydrated trying to make weight and couldn’t show up for his first weigh-in. That was 14 years ago and Russell never complained of pain in his shoulder until Saturday night. Concocting the Olympic story had to be a laughable exaggeration. Russell also said he hurt his shoulder in training two weeks before the fight. Despite the supposed injury, Russell went on to battle Magsayo and even had to take a second trip to the scales to make the 126-pound featherweight limit. Is he to be applauded for his courage or denigrated for making excuses?

MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said Magsayo would be willing to do a rematch but when is the question because Russell fought only once a year since 2015 and didn’t see action for nearly two years before Saturday’s match. Gibbons joked that Russell might not be ready to fight again until 2023 so while waiting, Magsayo could do two defenses. Magsayo told coach Freddie Roach his ultimate goal is to be undisputed so that means beating super WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz, regular WBA ruler Leigh Wood, IBF beltholder Kiko Martinez and WBO king Emanuel Navarrete. Gibbons said Magsayo could start by facing Wood, an Englishman who won the WBA strap by halting China’s Xu Can in Brentwood last July. Wood is set to stake his crown against Belfast’s Michael Conlan in Nottingham on March 12. Fighting the winner of the Wood-Conlan contest could be an option as it would unify the regular WBA and WBC championships.

If he doesn’t attempt to unify, Magsayo could choose a challenger from among the top 15 contenders in an optional defense. A mandatory would be against No. 1 contender Rey Vargas of Mexico. Vargas, 31, has a 35-0 record, with 22 KOs and is a former WBC superbantamweight titlist. The Mexican is 5-10 1/2 with a 70 1/2 inch reach, compared to Magsayo who is 5-8 with a 68-inch wingspan. Magsayo’s record is 24-0, with 16 KOs. Gibbons said fighting Vargas would be like engaging Navarrete, a Mexican with a 36-0 record, including 29 KOs. Either would be a tough opponent. Another option could be to take on Martinez, the Spaniard whom Russell once beat via a stoppage. Martinez, 35, is due to defend his IBF throne against England’s Josh Warrington in Leeds on March 26. Meanwhile, Magsayo said he’s coming home as soon as his wife Frances is able to extend her US visa. He’s excited to thank his countrymen for their prayers, support and well wishes and show off the championship belt that has been his dream to capture since turning pro in 2013.


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


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