(UPDATED) Mark Magsayo is the latest Filipino to become a world champion in boxing.
The 26-year-old Magsayo overcame a gritty effort by American Gary Russell Jr. in their WBC featherweight showdown in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), to emerge as the new champion.
Magsayo won via majority decision, with one judge scoring the bout an even 114-114. The two other judges however saw the bout in Magsayo's favor, 115-113.
"This is my dream, my dream come true," an emotional Magsayo said after the result was announced. "This is my dream since I was a kid, since I was an amateur."
"I'm so proud, I'm a champion now," he added.
Magsayo impressed early, using his reach advantage to neutralize Russell's jab and landing his left uppercut regularly. But the momentum of the bout turned in the fourth round, when Russell aggravated an injury to his right shoulder.
After Magsayo landed a right hand that caught Russell's attention, the American grimaced in pain and had to back away. Russell fought one-handed for the rest of the fight, and did not throw a single jab in the final six rounds.
But Russell still showed remarkable heart and skill, using his movement to evade most of Magsayo's punches while also landing his left hand. Magsayo was clearly the more active fighter, but Russell nonetheless reached the final bell even while compromised.
"I hurt him in the third round," Magsayo said. "It's a bit of an advantage for me, because he was only using one hand."
Statistics showed after the bout that Russell threw just 323 punches, landing 69 of them. Magsayo, meanwhile, threw 543 punches and landed 150, including 140 of his 340 power punches.
Russell, known as a busy fighter who uses his jab to set-up his offense, threw a total of just 64 jabs in the bout.
Russell, who was making the sixth defense of his WBC title, was less than impressed with Magsayo and declared himself the winner.
"I feel like I still won the fight, to be honest with you," said Russell, who was fighting for the first time since February 2020, and had refused to postpone the bout even though he aggravated his shoulder injury two weeks ago in camp.
"I fought with one arm, and he had his hands full with a fighter with one arm. I gave him a boxing lesson," Russell declared.
Magsayo, who improved to 24-0 in his boxing career, said it will be up to his promoters to negotiate a possible rematch with Russell, but stressed that he welcomes all challengers.
"It's up to Sir Sean Gibbons (of MP Promotions), but I'm willing to fight anybody now. I'm a champion now," a giddy Magsayo said.