Magsayo dethrones Russell to become new WBC featherweight champion

Published January 23, 2022, 1:50 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Mark Magsayo came from all angles and banked on his powerful body shots and uppercuts to dethrone Gary Russell Jr. and become the new World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight champion in their main event world title clash at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Atlantic City in New Jersey on Saturday, Jan. 22 (Sunday in Manila).

Mark Magsayo unloads a right hook to Gary Russell Jr. in their main event WBC featherweight title bout at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Atlantic City in New Jersey on Saturday, Jan. 22 (Sunday in Manila). (Showtime Boxing)

Magsayo remained undefeated in 24 matches on top of 16 knockouts as he took home a 114-114, 115-113, 115-113 majority decision win and ended Russell’s seven-year reign as WBC featherweight titlist.

“This is my dream. My dream did come true,” said Magsayo, baring mixed emotions as he spoke to veteran sportscaster Jim Gray post-match.

“This is my dream since I was a kid, since I’m an amateur. And now I’m a professional and I’m a world champion. This is my dream,” added the 26-year-old Tagbilaran, Bohol native boxer while thanking MP Promotions chief Sean Gibbons, match promoters Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime Boxing, and PBC owner and founder Al Haymon.

Lynne Carter was the lone judge to give a draw to both boxers while Mark Consentino and Henry Grant chalked up 115-113 in favor of Magsayo.

Magsayo of MP Promotions turned aggressive at the beginning of the tenth as he closed in on Russell with powerful combinations early in the round before unloading a solid left hook at the waning seconds.

Things were looking good for Magsayo come the eleventh after asserting dominance with right uppercuts and hefty body shots while Russell wasn’t able to land any significant punches.

It was now or never in the twelfth round as fans at the Atlantic City began chanting “Magsayo” and “Gary” but the Filipino fighter hit the first blow with another solid body shot followed up by a stinging straight right hand.

With the clock ticking near the final bell, Russell proved that he still has a lot left in his gas tank when he showed great defense and dodged Magsayo’s late flurry of punches.

Magsayo landed 140 of his 340 power punches (41 percent) compared to Russell’s 58 of 259 attempts (22 percent). The American champion, however, connected 11 of his 64 jabs (17 percent) compared to the Filipino’s 10 out of the 203 swings (five percent).

Meanwhile, Filipino boxing legend and only eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao extended his congratulations to his protege Magsayo on social media.

“Congratulations, @markmagsayo_MMM, on your first world championship! Thank you for bringing honor to our country by becoming the latest Filipino world boxing champion. Welcome to the club,” wrote Pacquiao on Twitter.

The 33-year-old Russell, for his part, admitted that he had a torn tendon in his right shoulder two weeks prior to the match which minimized his movements as well as his signature jabs against Magsayo.

Russell was seen grimacing at the start of the fourth round after a jab attempt as Magsayo capitalized the situation by landing body shots.

After the fourth round, the American southpaw was forced to abandon his jabs and adjust with counterpunching instead.

“I believe I have a torn tendon in my right shoulder,” explained Russell, who suffered his second career loss with 31 wins and 18 KOs at hand.

“I haven’t competed in the last two years. This is what true champions do. I want to step into the ring and display my superiority regardless of an injury or with not. I gave him (Magsayo) a boxing lesson. I gave him a boxing lesson the whole way through. I landed clean whenever I wanted to. I couldn’t use my right arm but I was still able to throw effective shots and touch him at will.”

 
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