Boxing: Championship is 'dream come true' for Magsayo

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2022 04:18 PM

Gary Russell Jr. (left) fights Filipino boxer Mark Magsayo (right) for the WBC World Featherweight Championship at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, United States on Saturday (Sunday in Manila). Mitchell Leff, Getty Images/AFP
Gary Russell Jr. (left) fights Filipino boxer Mark Magsayo (right) for the WBC World Featherweight Championship at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, United States on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Mitchell Leff, Getty Images/AFP

Mark Magsayo's childhood dream came true on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), when he out-pointed Gary Russell Jr. to become the WBC featherweight champion of the world.

It was an emotional victory for "Magnifico," who sank to his knees when the result was read. Magsayo was the busier fighter throughout 12 rounds, though he was unable to stop Russell despite the American being hampered by a shoulder injury.

Scores were 114-114, 115-113, 115-113, with Magsayo emerging as the winner via majority decision.

"This is my dream, my dream come true," Magsayo said afterward, as he became the fifth active Filipino fighter to hold a world championship.

"This is my dream since I was a kid, since I was an amateur," he added. "I'm so proud. I'm a champion now."

Magsayo, 26, kept his unbeaten record intact, improving to 24-0 with 16 knockouts. He had earned his shot at Russell after knocking out Mexico's Julio Ceja in August 2021, in the undercard of what turned out to be Manny Pacquiao's last fight.

The young Filipino boxer's activity likely gave him the edge against Russell, who fought one-handed for half of the match after aggravating a right shoulder injury in the fourth round.

But Magsayo seemed unfazed that he was unable to put away a one-handed fighter.

"It's a bit of an advantage for me, because he was only using one hand," said Magsayo, who connected on 150 of the 543 punches he threw but was unable to truly put Russell in trouble. 

His trainers, including the legendary Freddie Roach, repeatedly told him to throw combinations and follow through, said Magsayo, and he believed that he followed their instructions well enough.

"(They said), this is it, this is gonna be your dream. You're gonna be a world champion. This is my dream," a delighted Magsayo said.

There will almost certainly be questions regarding a rematch, especially with Russell unable to fight at a 100% yet still managing to last the distance.

However, Magsayo said such questions are up to his promoters to answer, notably Sean Gibbons of MP Promotions.

"It's up to them," he said. "But I'm willing to fight anybody."

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