MARK “MAGNIFICO” MAGSAYO snatched Gary Russell Jr.’s World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight belt in a 12-round fight that saw the Filipino displaying immense aggression and the dethroned American flashing a survival instinct characteristic of a true champion.
Russell fought with only one effective arm, his left, after his right shoulder and arm were slowed down by Magsayo’s aggressive combinations.
Magsayo won by majority decision with judges Mark Consentino and Henry Grant scoring it 115-113 each for Magsayo and Lynn Carter seeing the fight at the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as a draw, 114-114.
Renowed trainer Freddie Roach had to restrain his 26-year-old fighter from Tagbilaran City for being aggressive after Russell turned tactical and warded off all of Magsayo’s potential lethal punches.
“Coach Freddie [Roach] reminded me to stick to the game plan after they saw that I really wanted to knock him out because in my mind, I was bothered that I might lose in the scorecards,” Magsayo told BusinessMirror through internet call.
“My corner told me not to rush it because he still has his footwork, speed and is a good fighter,” he said. “I hurt him in the third round with a lot of good shots and it was then that he couldn’t use his jab so I attacked him.”
“That’s a little bit of an advantage because he only used one hand after that and that’s an opportunity for me to follow through with my punches,” he added.
Magsayo stalked Russell all the way to the final bell with pressure-packed combinations and often times pushed the former champion to the ropes. All Russell did was to create a distance to avoid further damages.
Roach and his assistant Marvin Somodio told Magsayo to pour our everything he got in the 11th round when Russell could hardly defend and punch with his right hand. But the American kept his survival instinct and landed occasional left straights but they weren’t solid enough to hurt Magsayo.
Magsayo also used his two-inch advantage at 5-foot-6 to sneak in stinging shots in Russell’s chin and body.
“This is my dream since I was a child—to become a world champion. I am so proud,” said Magsayo said, who ended Russell’s six-year title reign and became the second Filipino to win a WBC featherweight title after Luisito Espinosa in 1995.
MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons praised Magsayo’s performance, saying his ward had the fight tucked in from the opening bell.
“Mark dictated the fight from the very beginning, he took Gary very well and Mark never lost a round,” Gibbons said. “Mark didn’t go tactical and went aggressive. It was Gary who became tactical, he’s a slick southpaw. If he bangs with Mark, he’ll get a knockout for sure.”
Magsayo hiked his unbeaten record to 24 fights with 16 knockouts, while the 33-year-old Russell Jr. suffered his second defeat in 33 fights.
PALACE HAILS MAGSAYO
MALACAñANG described Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo as “a new source of national pride and honor.”
“We are one with the Filipino people in celebrating the victory of Mark ‘Magnifico’ Magsayo when he dethroned Gary Russell Jr. to become the new WBC featherweight champion,” Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a brief statement.
“We thank Mark for giving pride and honor to the country and demonstrating to the world the courage, determination and perseverance of the Filipino boxer,” he added.