Bohol homecoming bout an 'acid test' for undefeated Magsayo
MANILA, Philippines – Mark "Magnifico" Magsayo's homecoming will not be an easy ride.
Fresh off a two-year break from boxing after amassing a pristine 19-0 pro record (14 KOs), the 24-year-old slugger will next face Thai veteran Panya Uthok (53-6, 35 KOs) for the WBC Asia Featherweight Championship at the Pride of Bohol event in Tagbilaran on Saturday, August 31.
Amid his 19-fight winning streak in the pro level, Magsayo hasn't faced an opponent as experienced as Uthok by a long shot. However, he is not the least bit worried about the experience gap heading to the bout presented by Vladimir Boxing Promotions.
"Matibay. Beterano na rin. Malaki na ang experience so ang kailangan namin ay pacing na lang sa laban," he said during a training session in Las Piñas.
"Ako nga sa isang taon isa pa lang laban ko eh. Pangalawa pa lang ngayon 'yung sa laban namin kaya excited kaming dalawa. Parehong gutom sa laban."
(He's tough and also a veteran. He has a lot of experience so we need to pace the fight. I've only fought once this year and the next one will be my second so we're both excited. We're both hungry for a fight.)
Like Magsayo, the 29-year-old Uthok has sparingly been in action recently, only having fought thrice in the last 4 years. And for coach Rissan Muelas, it's the perfect combination of circumstances for his prized ward.
"'Yung laban na ito, kinuha namin siya kasi parang acid test din 'to kay Mark," he said. "Ito kasi 'yung una niyang makakalaban na naglaro na ng worlds, so parang isang test din kay Mark na maipakita niya 'yung galing niya sa boxing dahil sa magiging kalaban niya ngayon."
(We got this fight as an acid test for Mark. This is his first opponent who's made it to the world stage, so this is a test for Mark to show what he's got, given his next opponent.)
Muelas added that while Uthok has the upper hand in experience, Magsayo's youth combined with his own knowledge of the pro boxing world will play a bigger role.
"So dito, lamang ni Mark, bata siya. Malakas. Ngayon updated na siya sa boxing so maraming estilo na rin. Nag-training na rin siya sa ibang bansa at nakakuha ng mga bagong technique o skills."
(Mark is younger, so that's an advantage. Now, he's also updated in boxing styles. He's also trained overseas and got new techniques and skills.)
While both fighters have amassed a huge helping of knockouts to their respective records, Muelas is not expecting Magsayo to knock Uthok out cold from the get-go.
"Sa laban, 'di kami nagmamadali kasi alam naming beterano 'yung kalaban. Ang knockout naman, darating 'yan 'pag mapuruhan 'yung kalaban," Muelas added.
(We won't rush the fight because we know that we're facing a veteran. The knockout will come if we get some good hits going.)
What's more important for Magsayo's camp right now is to get the win come August 31 in front of what is expected to be a raucous Tagbilaran crowd.
"Ngayon, tuwang-tuwa siya na makalaban siya ulit at maipakita sa mga kababayan niya na lalaro siya ulit doon," Muelas continued. "Sana makuha niya 'yung belt na ito ngayon."
(Mark's very happy that he can fight again and show his community that he'll fight there again. Hopefully, he can get the belt this time.) – Rappler.com