MANILA, Philippines – In his first crack at a world title, Mark Magsayo would not be denied.
The Filipino claimed the World Boxing Council featherweight belt after dethroning American Gary Russell Jr. with a majority decision win at the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City on Saturday, January 22 (Sunday, January 23, Manila time).
With Russell hobbled by a right shoulder injury, Magsayo did just enough to earn the nod of the two judges, who scored the bout 115-113, and keep his immaculate record intact at 24-0.
The other judge had it tied at 114-114.
Magsayo was as giddy as a schoolboy as he stymied the erstwhile longest active champion in Russell, who held the WBC title since March 2015.
“This is a dream come true. This was my dream since I was a kid, since I was an amateur. Now I’m a professional, I’m a world champion,” Magsayo said with the WBC belt hanging over his shoulder.
Aware that Russell was hurt starting in the third round, Magsayo put on the pressure with a barrage of body shots to take the middle rounds as the former champion tried to steer clear with his movement compromised.
Statistics revealed Russell did not land a single jab for the rest of the bout after the fifth round.
Russell, though, remained elusive in the closing rounds and even scored some clean counter shots against the aggressive Magsayo.
But Magsayo, who landed more than 80 power punches than Russell, built an ample lead in the earlier rounds en route to the win as he joined the likes of Jerwin Ancajas, Nonito Donaire, and Johnriel Casimero in the growing list of Filipino world champions.
“I hurt him in the third round. I hit him with good shots, that was why he got hurt,” Magsayo said. “It was a little bit of advantage because he was only using one hand.”
Magsayo said he is open to any bout, including a rematch against Russell.
“It is up to [my promoters]. But I’m willing to fight anybody now. I’m the champion now,” Magsayo said.
Russell dropped to 31-2 after being inactive for nearly two years. – Rappler.com