WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. is undoubtedly the most difficult fighter Mark Magsayo has to deal in his career.
But according to veteran fight analyst Atty. Ed Tolentino, this might be the best time for Magsayo to wrest the title away from the reigning champion as the fleet-footed southpaw from Washington D.C. has been going through a lot of issues outside the ring.
"Marami siyang problemang kinakaharap. Two years ago, 'yung kapatid niya pumanaw. Ang kanyang tatay, si Russell Sr., who has been training him since he was a boy, e naputulan ng paa due to complications brought about by diabetes," he noted.
"So sinabi ni Russell Jr., in this fight he is basically self-trained."
Magsayo, the mandatory challenger, is scheduled to square off with Russell this weekend in Atlantic City.
Adding to Russell's woes is his lack of boxing activity. The last time he fought was in February 2020 when he outpointed Mongolian fighter Tugstsogt Nyambayar.
"He's coming in 23-month inactivity. Maaring 'yung focus niya is not the same, maaring this is a perfect opportunity that Magsayo can capitalize," said Tolentino.
But this doesn't mean it will be a walk in the park for the hard-hitting Magsayo. After all, Russell is a left-handed technical fighter with power in both hands.
"(Magsayo) brings in the fire power, but he has to bring a whole lot more as he faces Russell," said Tolentino.