Filipino boxers

Magsayo wants to become undisputed world champion

Roy Luarca
Magsayo wants to become undisputed world champion

TITLEHOLDER. Mark Magsayo says he is open to fighting anybody now that he is the champion.

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Mark Magsayo sets his sights on bigger things after claiming his first world title by wresting the WBC featherweight belt from Gary Russell Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – World champion now, undisputed ruler later.

Mark Magsayo’s career path appears to be headed in this direction as the newly crowned World Boxing Council featherweight champion wants a unification with anyone among his counterparts from the other sanctioning bodies.

And his promoter, MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions president Sean Gibbons, is inclined to grant the wish of Magsayo, who dethroned Gary Russell Jr. via majority decision in their title duel on Saturday, January 22 (Sunday, January 23, Manila time) at the Borgata Hotel Casino Events Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“Undisputed. That’s our target, coach, undisputed,” Magsayo told SecondsOut while tapping the shoulder of chief trainer Freddie Roach.

“I’m the champion, I can fight anybody now,” said Magsayo, with Gibbons by his side, during the post-fight interview.

According to Magsayo, he heeded the instructions of Roach from the opening bell and succeeded in stunning the highly favored American by taking the last three rounds through aggression and volume punching.

“Every round, coach (Roach) told me to punch, punch, focus, throw combinations, follow through, follow the game plan,” said Magsayo, a +300 underdog.

The ploy worked as Russell, who hurt his right arm in the fourth round, seemed to run out of gas and yielded the title he had held since 2015 to the unbeaten Magsayo (24-0, 16 knockouts).

“It feels like I’m in heaven,” said Magsayo, who thanked Pacquiao for supporting and encouraging him and Gibbons for giving him the opportunity to fight for the world title.

While dismissing Russell’s claim that he won the fight, Gibbons said he’s open to a rematch, although it’s unlikely to happen soon as the 33-year-old lefty fights but once a year, even longer.

Magsayo, who outpunched (543-323) and outhit Russell (150-69), also thanked his father and his wife, Frances, for providing him the inspiration to chase his dream of becoming a world champion since he was 8 years old.

Ever grateful, Magsayo said he’s going to buy his father a new house, most likely in their hometown of Tagbilaran City, Bohol, where many people watched the action live on giant screens.

Magsayo can afford it, as he reportedly was guaranteed $175,000 (around P8.9 million) plus a share of the pay-per-view sales. And he stands to earn more in his first title defense.

The other featherweight champions are Spaniard Kiko Fernandez (43-10-2, 30 knockouts) of the International Boxing Federation, Mexican Emanuel Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) of the World Boxing Organization, Mexican Leo Santa Cruz (37-2-1) of the World Boxing Association (super), and British Leigh Wood (25-2, 15 KOs), also of the WBA (regular). – Rappler.com