Boxing: Back to work for world champ Magsayo

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2022 04:39 PM

Mark Magsayo of the Philippines  EPA-EFE.
Mark Magsayo of the Philippines celebrates his victory against Julio Ceja of Mexico after their 10 round WBC World Featherweight Title Eliminator fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 21 August 2021. File photo. Etienne Laurent, EPA-EFE.

MANILA, Philippines -- After a brief break, WBC featherweight champion Mark "Magnifico" Magsayo will leave the country this week to start preparing for his first title defense.

Magsayo heads back to Los Angeles to start training with coach Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym, as he is set to take on Rey Vargas of Mexico on July 9 in San Antonio, Texas.

The 26-year-old pride of Tagbilaran City quietly returned to the country last March 3 after being away for almost two years and fighting in the US. In January, he claimed the WBC belt from long-reigning champion Gary Russell.

"April start na ng training sa Wild Card gym kay Freddie Roach," said Magsayo on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

"Pero habang nasa bakasyon ako nagte-training na rin ako. Hindi pa rin ako nagpapabaya sa sarili ko kahit nasa bakasyon ako," he guaranteed.

The 31-year-old Vargas was supposed to face Russell in a title match, but suffered a broken leg that paved the way for the Filipino to replace him in the world championship bout.

MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons said they knew Vargas was next in line the moment "Magnifico" pulled off the majority decision win over Russell.

"It was already pre-determined even before Mark fought (Russell). And that would be Rey Vargas which is fine with us. You know when you're the champ, whoever they offer you, whoever they put in front of you, that's who you would have to fight when it's a mandatory," said Gibbons.

Vargas is a former WBC super-bantamweight champion who defended his title five times and holds an undefeated record of 35-0 with 22 KOs. But Magsayo is unfazed, saying Vargas is a great fighter and a great match up for him.

"Macha-challenge na naman ako. Exciting itong laban na ito, interesting fight kasi magaling, walang talo, undefeated siya, matangkad. Meron siyang bentahe na wala ako, pero may bentahe ako na wala siya. So maayos 'yan, magandang laban," the Filipino champion said.

Before leaving the country, Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) paid a courtesy call to his main benefactor, boxing great and Senator Manny Pacquiao, and got more than just an audience with the retired eighth-time world champion.

"Sinabi sa akin ni Senator na 'pag matangkad ang kalaban, head movement talaga and dapat maganda 'yung counter," Magsayo recalled of his meeting with the "Pacman" last Sunday. "Tapos, 'yung training ko raw, kailangan kong doblehin pa raw kasi ako na 'yung defending champion."

"At saka tiwala sa trainer, tiwala sa Panginoon, 'yun talaga ang sinabi niya sa akin," he added.

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