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MANILA, Philippines – Mark Magsayo hardly had the time to savor victory when news about the World Boxing Council ordering him to defend the featherweight crown against Rey Vargas broke out.
Still in celebratory mood after wresting the 126-pound belt from Gary Russell Jr. on Saturday, January 22 (Sunday, January 23, Philippine time), Magsayo is enjoying the freezing cold and snow in New Jersey, where he won the title, before returning to Los Angeles, California, where he is now based.
Of course, the fight with Vargas, the unbeaten (35-0, 22 knockouts) former super bantamweight champion from Mexico, has yet to be confirmed with the purse, date, and venue as prime considerations.
As he has repeatedly said, however, Magsayo (24-0, 16 knockouts) is willing to face anybody in the division which he intends to become the undisputed champion.
Vargas is a dangerous foe for Magsayo, having a 4-inch height advantage and a 2 1/2 edge in reach. From looking down to the 5-4 1/2 Russell, Magsayo will now have to chin up to the 5-10 1/2 Vargas.
Although the records will show that Vargas has power, it did not show in his last seven fights that he all won by decision. The last time Vargas managed to stop a foe was five years ago when he knocked Alexander Munoz out.
If the Magsayo-Vargas title duel pushes through, it will have another interesting sidelight than being a battle of the unbeaten.
Magsayo’s chief trainer, Freddie Roach, will be pitting mind skills with old rival and fellow boxing Hall of Famer Nacho Beristain, Vargas’ mentor.
The 82-year-old Beristain, of course, is the longtime trainer of Juan Manuel Marquez, the arch-nemesis of Roach’s greatest ward – Manny Pacquiao.
According to WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, the mandatory defense had been ordered even before Russell was scheduled to tangle with Magsayo.
Vargas, the WBC super bantamweight king from 2017-2020 before relinquishing it after sustaining a foot injury, said he was elated by the WBC’s division and will exercise his option.
“We are the mandatory challenger, Mr. Sulaiman has just confirmed it. We knew we were going straight to the title, we just waited to find out who would win that fight between Russell and Magsayo and since Magsayo is the new champion, then we are going against him,” Vargas told ESTO
“[The title shot] comes to me at an excellent time, during a great period of my life, with greater maturity, now I enjoy things more, I commit myself more, I have always been a perfectionist, but now I’m even more so… all of this has taken me to where I am and the goal is to be a new world champion.” – Rappler.com