Boxing: Russell unconvinced by Magsayo's win -- 'I gave him a boxing lesson'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2022 04:38 PM

Former world champion Gary Russell Jr. during the weigh-in for his title defense against Mark Magsayo. Amanda Westcott, Showtime.
Former world champion Gary Russell Jr. during the weigh-in for his title defense against Mark Magsayo. Amanda Westcott, Showtime.

MANILA - Gary Russell Jr. was not at his best when he fought Mark Magsayo in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), but the American still believes that he is the rightful winner of their WBC featherweight title bout.

Russell, 33, was fighting for the first time since February 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic rendering him inactive for nearly two years. Not only did the American have to overcome ring rust, he also fought through a shoulder injury that he sustained two weeks before fight night.

"I'm a true champion. This is what warriors do. I fight regardless of what the situation is. I refuse to not compete and display my skill sets to my fans and the people that came out and showed support and love," Russell would say after the fight.

Russell, who was defending his WBC featherweight belt for the sixth time, showed few signs of ring rust or inactivity in the first three rounds. But in the fourth, it became clear that he had aggravated his shoulder injury, which severely limited his movement.

The American virtually stopped using his right hand after the fifth round; he did not throw a single jab in the final six rounds of the match.

Yet Russell still went toe-to-toe with Magsayo, evading most of the Filipino challenger's most damaging attacks, and using his left hand at will. Afterward, Russell expressed his belief that not only had he won the fight, he also schooled the younger Magsayo.

This, despite Magsayo being declared the winner via majority decision. It was only the second loss of Russell's career, and his first since June 2014 when he lost a majority decision as well to Ukraine's Vasiliy Lomachenko.

"I believe I have a torn tendon in my right shoulder. I haven't competed in almost two years," he said.

"(But) this is what true champions do. I want to step into the ring, and display my superiority, regardless of my injury or what-not. We did that," Russell added. "I gave him a boxing lesson. I gave him a boxing lesson the whole way through. I landed clean whenever I wanted to."

"I couldn't use my right arm, but I was still able to throw effective shots and touch him at will."

Russell explained that despite sustaining an injury in training camp, he was confident in his abilities and did not want to postpone the Magsayo fight after already being inactive for nearly two years. His last fight had been in February 2020, a unanimous decision win against Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar.

"I believed in my skill set, and what I bring into the ring. I felt like I still won the fight, to be honest with you," he said.

"I refused to put this fight back, and I fought with one-arm. He had his hands full with a fighter with one arm the whole fight. I gave him a boxing lesson," he added.

Russell vowed to have his right shoulder fixed, admitting that it may entail surgery. He also made it clear that he intends to ask for a rematch against Magsayo, especially as he was far from his best in their first encounter.

"Will he want a rematch -- that's the question. I'll rematch him," the American fighter declared.

Russell's record now stands at 31-2, with 18 of his wins coming by knockout.