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MANILA, Philippines – From one Filipino world champion to another.
Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao congratulated Mark Magsayo for clinching his first world title following a majority decision win over American Gary Russell Jr. in their tussle for the World Boxing Council featherweight belt.
“Thank you for bringing honor to our country by becoming the latest Filipino world boxing champion,” Pacquiao, the only eight-division champion in the sport, wrote on Twitter on Sunday, January 23.
“Welcome to the club,” added Pacquiao, who is running for the presidency in the May elections.
Magsayo stretched his unbeaten streak to 24 with 16 knockouts and earned the belt on his first try, proving that MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions did not err in signing him up.
Although he failed to catch Russell with killer shots, the 26-year-old Magsayo clearly outworked the 33-year-old American, who suffered his second loss after 31 wins, 18 by knockout.
Magsayo, pride of Tagbilaran City, Bohol, unleashed 543 punches against Russell’s 323 and was even more accurate, connecting on 150 for 28% against Russell’s 69 for 21%.
Heeding chief trainer Freddie Roach’s instructions, Magsayo threw 340 power punches and landed 130 for a high 41% as against Russell’s 259 and 58 connections (22%).
The aggressor for most of the fight, Magsayo flicked 203 jabs only 10 of which landed. In contrast, Russell threw only 64 and landed 11.
A forlorn Russell said he believes he has a torn tendon on his right shoulder and might have surgery afterward. As it turned out, it was the “slight injury” he was referring to in interviews days before the bout.
According to Russell, he sustained the injury two weeks into the fight but chose to compete rather than pull out.
Despite virtually fighting with just one hand, Russell believes he had done enough, outboxing Magsayo and landing the cleaner shots to retain the crown he held since 2015.
But with the results in, it was Magsayo who had the last laugh.
As customary, Malacañang lauded Magsayo for his world title victory.
“We are one with the Filipino people in celebrating the victory of Mark ‘Magnifico’ Magsayo when he dethroned Gary Russell Jr. to become the new WBC featherweight champion,” said acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles in a statement.
“We thank Mark for giving pride and honor to the country and demonstrating to the world the courage, determination, and perseverance of the Filipino boxer.”
Aside from Roach, Magsayo was joined by assistant trainer Marvin Somodio and conditioning coach Pedro Garcia in his corner.
Also present for Magsayo’s historic moment was MP president Sean Gibbons, who predicted his prized ward would become the new world champion. – Rappler.com