Boxing: Mark Magsayo refuses to cherry-pick first title defense

Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2022 11:25 PM

Mark Magsayo AFP/file
Mark Magsayo during his fight against Julio Ceja on August 21, 2021. Patrick T. Fallon, AFP/file

WBC featherweight champion Mark "Magnifico" Magsayo is one of the Philippines' two remaining world champions and he’s doing everything he can to make sure he keeps his belt past July 9.

"I’ve been training for almost four months, so almost 200 rounds sparring ko. Maganda ang condition ko, ang timbang ko, 'yung preparation min sa laban. Pinag-aralan natin yung style ng kalaban," said Magsayo.

Magsayo won the world title via majority decision over an injured Gary Russell Jr. last January. He believes this defense against the unbeaten Rey Vargas is a chance to prove he is without a doubt the top featherweight. 

"Hopefully in this fight... he’ll fight toe-to-toe. If he doesn’t run around someone’s gonna get knocked out," said Magsayo.

Magnifico wants to make sure that he is facing one of the top fighters in his division. The 31-year-old Vargas is undefeated in 35 fights, and was once the world super bantamweight champion.

"We wanted a good fight, we don’t want to cherry pick. It has to be a high caliber opponent because I’m a world champion now," said Magsayo. "And Vargas has been waiting for a long time in the featherweight division. We have to fight him since he’s the mandatory challenger."

The fight will take place in San Antonio’s Alamodome on Showtime Boxing. For the Manny Pacquiao-promoted champion, the venue has a special meaning for him. 

"That was the first time I saw Sen. Manny Pacquiao fight, in 2004. That's where I saw him fight Marco Antonio Barrera, and that's where I was inspired to box, so I’ll fight there for my first world title fight, so it’s a special arena," said Magsayo.

While he’s focused on his Mexican opponent, Magsayo who is undefeated through 24 fights, said he has bigger goals in the future. 

He hopes to take on all of the champions in his division and unify all of the belts. The mandatory defense will be his first step.