ANALYSIS: Magsayo eager to prove naysayers wrong in 1st title defense

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 07 2022 01:20 AM

Gary Russell Jr. (left) fights Filipino boxer Mark Magsayo (right). File photo/ Mitchell Leff, Getty Images/AFP
Gary Russell Jr. (left) fights Filipino boxer Mark Magsayo (right). File photo/ Mitchell Leff, Getty Images/AFP

Mark Magsayo, the country's remaining world boxing champion, is scheduled to make his first defense of his WBC featherweight title this weekend at Alamodome in San Antonio.

Magsayo is penciled to take on mandatory challenger and fellow undefeated Rey Vargas of Mexico.

Boxing analyst Nissi Icasiano said the heavy handed puncher from Tagbilaran will be coming in with a lot of motivation, given the way he won the title from longtime champion Gary Russell last January.

"The pressure that I see on Mark Magsayo is to prove his naysayers that his victory over Gary Russell is no fluke," Icasiano told ABS-CBN News.

"You cannot be considered a champion if you can't defend your title. And you have a first challenger in the form of Rey Vargas, na hindi biro na kalaban."

Magsayo received flak from some fans after failing to stop Russell despite the latter injuring his right shoulder early in the fourth round of their 12-round tiff in New Jersey.

The Filipino went on to win via majority decision which was good enough to merit him the featherweight crown.

Icasiano believes Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) is highly favored to win against Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs) despite the Mexican being the taller fighter.

Vargas had most of his successes in the super bantamweight division (122 pounds), but the analyst pointed out that Magsayo has long been fighting as a featherweight (126 pounds).

"The fight will be contested at 126 pounds and Rey Vargas hasn't knocked out anyone since 2016. So that's a big check for Mark Magsayo," said Icasiano. 

"The Filipino doesn't have to worry about the punching power of the Mexican."

Even Vargas himself admitted in a previous report that he has to be careful with Magsayo's punching power.

"This is only Rey Vargas' second fight in the at 126 pounds and he's going to face a mainstay of the division. Dealing with the power that Mark Magsayo has is his number 1 assignment as soon as the first bell rings," said Icasiano.