The hard-hitting, rising Filipino star ends Russell's long reign to become the new WBC Featherweight World Champion Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
Mark Magsayo fell to his knees and raised his arms in elation.
Wisdom wouldn’t win. Each time Gary Russell Jr. tried raising his right hand or putting any force behind it, a jolt of pain ran through it—accompanied by the additional jolting knowledge that his six-year rule as WBC featherweight world champion was coming to an end.
On Saturday night, Russell lost a fight for the first time in seven years and with it, the WBC featherweight strap that he won in 2015, ending his streak as the longest-reigning world champion.
Magsayo unseated Russell by 12-round majority decision in the Premier Boxing Champions event on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing from the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.
Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) won 115-113 on the scorecards of judges Mark Consentino and Henry Grant, overruling Lynne Carter’s 114-114 draw.
“This is my dream,” Magsayo said. “My dream just came true. Ever since I was a kid, this was my dream. I’m so proud that I’m a champion now. Thank you so much to the Filipino fans for the support.
“Yes, I know that I hurt him in the third round. I hit him with a good shot so that’s why he got hurt. I took advantage of it because he was only using one hand. This was my opportunity to follow through. My coach was telling me to use good combinations and follow through. He said this is your chance to become a champion and now I am a champion!”
From the fourth round on, southpaw Russell (31-2, 18 KOs) did not land a jab. An interesting point is the previous eight opponents landed 28.7% of their power punches against Russell, while Magsayo landed 41% of his power punches (140 of 340).
“I believe I have a torn tendon in my right shoulder,” Russell said. “I haven’t competed in almost two years. This is what true champions do. I wanted to step into the ring and display my superiority regardless of the injury.
“I gave him a boxing lesson. I gave him a boxing lesson the whole way through. I hit him clean whenever I wanted to. I couldn’t use my right arm but I was still able to throw effective shots.”
Entering the fight, Russell had averaged 37 jabs thrown per round, but the right shoulder injury caused him to stop throwing his jab. Another interesting nugget is that despite Russell not landing a jab from the fourth round, he still landed more total jabs (11) than Magsayo (10).
Russell fought the majority of the fight with one arm and was only able to throw 27 punches per round, a gaping drop from his 72-punch average output per round.
He rarely threw a punch, but he also rarely got hit.
The telling point in the fight came with 2:31 left in the fourth, when Russell stumbled and shook out his right shoulder, like there was something wrong with it.
“I hurt the shoulder about two weeks ago,” Russell said. “But I went through with the fight because I’m a true champion and this is what warriors do. I’m going to fight regardless what the situation is. I refuse to not compete and display my skillsets to my fans and the people that came out to show support and love. Please believe that I will be back. I still want these fights.
“I had almost a two-year layoff. I was itching to get back in the ring and compete. I injured my shoulder about two weeks ago in the training camp. I refused to postpone this fight. I believed in my skillset and what I bring into the ring. I felt like I still won the fight to be honest.
Magsayo saw the opening and jumped on it.
For the remainder of the fight, Russell fought essentially one handed. The southpaw, so accurate and dependent on his right-handed jab, hardly used any jabs. He used his right sporadically, pawing at the younger Magsayo with his right, though Russell’s guile and accumulated boxing acumen kept him elusive and in the fight.
Towards the end of the 10th, Magsayo nailed Russell with a short left, as he was retreating back to his corner.
Round after round, Russell was masterful in keeping Magsayo away. The times Magsayo did close, he nailed Russell with a steady rain of uppercuts and body shots, which eventually slowed Russell.
“Hell yeah I want a rematch,” Russell said. “Would he want a rematch? That’s the question.”
Subriel Matias gets his revenge over Petros Ananyan
Subriel Matias wasn’t about to stop, and nothing was going to stop him from avenging the lone loss of his career in February 2020. It haunted him like a hovering specter for two years, never letting him go.
Finally, Matias had his chance and he didn’t disappoint.
Matias (18-1, 18 KOs) bludgeoned Petros Ananyan over nine rounds, before the stubborn 33-year-old Russian couldn’t answer the bell in the 10th.
“Two years ago, Ananyan knocked me off my path to the world title,” Matias said. “I've been waiting for the fight ever since then. This is what I trained to do. My goal was to get him out of there. I had to prove in this fight that I was the better man. I'm thankful for the opportunity to face a warrior like Ananyan. If you don't take him seriously, he'll beat you.
“This is the fight that I always wanted. Ever since my defeat to him, I wanted to avenge the loss. When you’re sure about yourself and you know that you have the skills that you have, you take the rematch.”
By the third, Matias had busted up Ananyan’s face with variety of uppercuts, strafing crosses and with constant pressure.
The few glitches came with 2:41 left in the seventh, when referee Mary Glover deducted a point from Matias for a low blow. The fighters ended the seventh going at each other nonstop.
By the ninth, Ananyan’s face was as red as his trunks. He fought back, though he couldn’t do anything to avoid Matias. Finally, with :02 left in the ninth, a Matias’ left hook to the chin sent Ananyan (16-3-2, 7 KOs) to canvas.
Beaten and swollen, Ananyan couldn’t answer the bell for the 10th.
Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar and Sakaria Lukas end in a split-decision draw
Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar could have used a victory over anyone, after losing two of his last three. Sakaria Lukas was looking for a chance to beat a world title contender.
Neither came out with what they wanted, but Lukas may have gotten a little closer than what he wanted, after getting a 10-round split-decision draw in a super featherweight bout.
Judge Ron McNair had it 96-94 for Nyambayar. Tony Lundy had it 96-94 for Lukas, and judge Robin Taylor had it 95-95.
“I thought I won the fight and I didn't believe it was a knockdown,” Nyambayar said. “It was a hard fight, especially against an opponent on short notice. My goal is to fight for the world title again.”
Nyambayar (12-2-1, 9 KOs) seemed to survive an eighth-round knockdown, which referee Edgardo Claudio explained afterward, “What I saw in real time, he fell in real time, not by the impact of the left hook. He got hit by a right hand, he got hit by a left hook, you saw something I didn’t see (in the calling it a knockdown).”
Lukas, who’s 37 and took the fight on 10 days’ notice after a 30-hour flight to reach Atlantic City, never relented. He started slow, slammed with a few uppercuts in the early rounds, though never went away.
Lukas (25-1-1, 17 KOs) kept coming forward and engaged.
By the third, it looked like “King Tug” was in control. By the sixth, his work rate had declined, and Lukas kept coming forward.
Then in the eighth, with 2:43 left, Lukas looked like he knocked down Nyambayar, but Claudio called it a slip. That slip, however, caused a stir in Lukas, who raised his energy level. It looked like Lukas snuck in a left jab that caused the knockdown, which followed an overhand right.
“Everyone saw it was a knockdown that should have given me a split-decision win.” Lukas said. “I fought my heart out and I deserved the win. I took the fight on short notice, but I was ready to win. I believe I won the fight, but I can't do anything about the decision. We had the fans behind us, they know what happened.
“I want to face the winner of the main event. This was an amazing opportunity for me and I showed up.”
On the undercard, super welterweight Evan Holyfield (9-0, 6 KOs) remained undefeated with a spirited unanimous six-round victory over the game Chris Rollins (5-4-1, 4 KOs). Super bantamweight Abimael Ortiz (10-1-1, 5 KOs) won an eight-round decision over Ryan Allen (10-6-1, 5 KOs). Middleweight LeShawn Rodriquez (13-0, 10 KOs) stopped Sixto Suazo (9-3-1, 7 KOs) at 1:36 of the first round.
Japanese featherweight southpaw Katsuma Akitsugi (8-0, 1 KOs) remained undefeated with a six-round unanimous decision over Rasheen Brown (11-1, 7 KOs). Welterweight Max Garland made a successful pro debut with a second-round at 1:44 over Marik Black (1-1-1, 1 KO).
For a closer look at Russell vs Magsayo, check out our fight night page.