Magsayo is new world boxing champ after wresting WBC featherweight title from Russell
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The six-year reign for Gary Russell Jr. as the World Boxing Council (WBC) world featherweight champion has finally come to an end after being dethroned by Boholano Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo via majority decision on Saturday (Sunday, Manila Time) in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Five boxers challenged Russell Jr., and all faltered to wrest the title until Magsayo squared off with Russell Jr. for 12 rounds, resulting in a majority decision.
One judge, Lynne Carter, scored the bout even at 114-114. Two judges, Mark Consentino and Henry Grant scored 115-113 in favor of Magsayo.
“My dream came true. My dream as a kid, this is my dream, becoming a world champion,” an emotional 26-year old Magsayo told ring announcer Jim Gray after the decision was announced.
Magsayo remained unbeaten at 24 wins with 16 knockouts, while the 33-year-old Russell suffered his second loss with 13 wins and 18 knockouts.
However, the bout could’ve ended differently if not for Russell Jr’s right shoulder injury.
Magsayo came out the more aggressive between the two boxers from the get-go, pressuring Russell Jr. with hooks and uppercuts, which mostly landed on the body.
Russell Jr. tried to control the pace with his counter left straights and jabs until the sixth round, when he hurt his right shoulder after going toe-to-toe with Magsayo.
After that, the American world champion became more defensive and never threw a single jab until the final bell. Instead, he banked on his counter punches while being pressured by Magsayo, who kept moving forward with combinations.
Magsayo slowed down in the middle rounds, giving Russell Jr. the chance to land numerous clean left straights, which kept the scorecards close.
However, Magsayo’s punch output became the largest factor of the bout’s outcome. The Boholano boxer, who is trained by Hall-of-Fame trainer Freddie Roach launched combinations after combinations after sensing that Russell Jr. wasn’t throwing jabs anymore.
Magsayo closed the distance cornered Russell Jr. numerous times against the ropes, and landed clean combinations, especially in the last two rounds.
When asked, if Magsayo would be willing to give Russell Jr. a rematch, the boxer said it would be up to his promoter and manager, Sean Gibbons.
For Russell Jr., he deserves a rematch with Magsayo.
“I hadn’t competed in two years. That’s what champions do, regardless of the injury. I gave him a boxing lesson, I landed clean, but I couldn’t use my right arm,” said Russell Jr.
“I still want this fight, I want to my shoulders fixed. I fought with one arm, the whole fight I gave him a boxing lesson. I will have a rematch with him,” Russell said.
It was later discovered that Russell Jr. fought with a torn tendon in his right shoulder two weeks before the bout, during his training camp.
On the other hand, boxing’s only eight-division world champion and presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao immediately twitted to congratulate Magsayo, who fights under MP Promotions.
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