Magsayo dethrones Russell Jr. to claim WBC featherweight crown

Mark Magsayo (right) pins Gary Russell Jr. to the ropes (Amanda Westcott/Showtime photo)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

After exactly six years and 10 months, a Filipino boxer is now the newest king of the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight division.

Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo once again proved to the world that he can hurdle the toughest challenges after upsetting long-time WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. via a majority decision victory during Showtime Boxing’s main event.

From the get-go, head trainer Freddie Roach and Magsayo’s game plan was simple: outbox Russell Jr. and land more punches.

Magsayo immediately buckled to work and kept the volume of his punches up while landing 11 total strikes in just the first round compared to Russell Jr.’s five.

The Magsayo onslaught didn’t stop as the Filipino pug continued to punish Russell Jr. and hit him several times when the American was tied up against the ropes.

However, Russell Jr. showed a different take on the ring once the third round began and made Magsayo miss his power swings badly that helped him recover in the scorecards while hitting his patent snappy jabs.

Russell Jr. would gather his momentum in the next three rounds and started to efficiently hit Magsayo with his 1-2 double jab combinations.

Despite getting hit, Magsayo continued his hounding pressure that paid off big time after landing several body shots and power hooks that added to his scorecards.

“This is a dream come true. This was my dream since I was a kid, since I was an amateur. Now I’m a professional, I’m a world champion,” Magsayo said.

One judge scored the bout 114-all while the two remaining judges had it 115-113 all in favor of the Filipino world champion.

With the win, Magsayo improved his stellar record to 24 wins, no losses, and 16 knockouts while Russell Jr. tasted defeat after nearly seven years and dropped to 31 wins and two losses.