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Fight fans are in for a treat on Saturday night as Premier Boxing Champions presents an explosive triple-header, with a main event featuring Mark Magsayo defending his WBC World Featherweight Title against former champion Rey Vargas in a battle between two hungry, undefeated warriors.

On Saturday, July 9, live on SHOWTIME from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, Premier Boxing Champions presents a triple-header full of action and intrigue.

Headlining the card, WBC World Featherweight Champion Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo makes the first defense of the title won from Gary Russell Jr. back in January. He’ll be taking on former WBC world super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas in a battle of unbeatens.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) will also feature all-action former world champion Brandon “The Heartbreaker” Figueroa making his 126-pound debut against smooth-boxing Mexican battler Carlos Castro in a co-main event WBC featherweight title eliminator. Opening the telecast, undefeated lightweight contender Frank Martin battles late replacement Jackson Marinez in a 10-round clash of styles. Martin’s original opponent, Ricardo Nuñez of Panama, was forced to withdraw from the bout due to visa-related issues.

Additional undercard action will be streamed live on the SHOWTIME SPORTS YouTube channel beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. In the pair of featured contests, undefeated welterweight contender Rashidi Ellis makes his much-anticipated return against Jose Marrufo in a 10-round bout and San Antonio hometown favorite Ramon Cardenas faces Venezuela’s Michell Banquez in a 10-round bantamweight battle.

Mark Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) vs. Rey Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs)

In his last fight, Magsayo, who hails from Pasig City, Metro Manila, The Philippines, upset long-time world champ Gary Russell Jr. to become the WBC World Featherweight Champion. This upcoming first defense of that title at the Alamodome in San Antonio also carries significant meaning for the 27-year-old, bringing him back to his first exposure to the icon who would become his hero and, later, his promoter.

“I’m excited to be fighting in the same venue where my idol Manny Pacquiao fought Marco Antonio Barrera,” Magsayo said. “That was the first fight I ever saw and the reason I started boxing.”

Against Russell, Magsayo showcased every tool and ability that placed him in the top contender spot. 

Quick, explosive, and aggressive by nature, his high-energy ring approach is being tempered with increased patience and a better sense of timing under the guidance of trainer Freddie Roach. His best offensive weapon is still a sharp right hand, although everything he throws is quick and registers impact.

The 31-year-old Vargas is a former WBC world super bantamweight champion who won his title and defended it five times before moving up to featherweight. 

Tall and long for his weight class at just a touch above 5-foot-10, the Mexico City native is most effective when using his edge in size and reach to his advantage.

Trained by legendary Mexican trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, Vargas likes to let his hands go and is best when able to fight at arm’s length. Still, however, he’s very effective to the body and does well when fighting on the inside. His jab is somewhat underutilized, but it has the potential to be a fight-controlling weapon.

Despite being clearly well-schooled, he does have some defensive liabilities and gets hit flush too often.

Led into battle by their respective Hall of Fame trainers, Magsayo vs. Vargas is a fitting chapter in boxing’s storied Philippines-Mexico rivalry and it should make for a competitive, entertaining matchup.

Brandon Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs) vs. Carlos Castro (27-1, 12 KOs)

The all-action Figueroa is coming off a close majority decision loss to Stephen Fulton Jr. in a Fight of the Year-caliber 122-pound title unification war last November. Still just 25, he’s making his move up to 126-pounds now and jumping straight into a WBC featherweight title eliminator.

A native of Weslaco, Texas and younger brother of former world champ Omar Figueroa Jr., “The Heartbreaker” is aggressive by nature, preferring to take the battle inside on an opponent despite having the tall, lanky frame to box effectively from a distance. Delivering punches in bunches, Figueroa gets good leverage on everything he throws and works the body well. 

Castro, a native of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, who came to live in Phoenix, Arizona as a child, is an all-around solid fighter who, in his last bout, dropped a close split decision at the 122-pound limit to former world champ Luis Nery. 

The Nery loss snapped an undefeated run that featured high-water mark victories over Oscar Escandon and Cesar Juarez. 

The 28-year-old, like Figueroa, is tall and lanky for his weight class although he prefers boxing from the outside. His best offensive weapon is probably a sharp right hand, but he also sports a good jab and a solid left hook.  

This WBC featherweight title eliminator is a chance for both fighters to rebound from tough losses and gain immediate access to the elite of the 126-pound class. 

Frank Martin (15-0, 11 KOs) vs. Jackson Marinez (19-2, 7 KOs)

The Derrick James-trained Martin is a spark plug of a fighter whose speed and athleticism make him an explosive ring presence. 

The 27-year-old southpaw from Indianapolis, Indiana has scored five stoppage victories in his last six contests and, most recently, tore through the talented Romero Duno en route to a fourth-round TKO victory. 

A former national amateur champion, Martin is considered one of the top rising stars in an already-packed lightweight division. 

Late replacement Marinez should actually be a stiffer stylistic challenge for Martin than his original opponent, the more one-dimensional Ricardo Nuñez.

The Dominican Republic’s Marinez has legitimate high-end skills, augmented by quick hands and quick feet, and is significantly better than his recent 0-2 run suggests. Many people still feel he deserved the decision over Rolando “Rolly” Romero in their 2020 contest. In his last bout, against Richard Commey in 2021, he gave a good account of himself until he eventually fell under the might of the Ghanaian’s heavy right hand.

The mix of Martin’s come-forward, explosive style and Marinez’s quick-fisted skill should make for a compelling contest—kicking off what should be an explosive night.

For a closer look at Magsayo vs Vargas, check out our fight night page. 

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The undefeated former 122-pound world champ will carry a lifetime of boxing experience into the ring as he attempts to become a two-division world champion when he faces WBC World Featherweight Champion Mark Magsayo Saturday night in a Premier Boxing Champions event on SHOWTIME.

Most fighters remember when they first became interested in boxing. They might have followed an older brother to the gym. Some were inspired by a movie like Rocky. For others, like WBC World Featherweight Champion Mark Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs,) it was a particular match that the family was watching in their living room that motivated them. 

Rey Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs,) has no such moment. “I don’t remember a time in life where there was no boxing.”    

This Saturday, July 9, Vargas, the WBC featherweight mandatory challenger and former WBC 122-pound world champion, will count on that lifetime of experience when he faces Magsayo for the newly minted champion’s title in a Premier Boxing Champions event from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

“I’m excited to be fighting in the same venue where my idol Manny Pacquiao fought Marco Antonio Barrera,” Magsayo said in a press release. “That was the first fight I ever saw and the reason I started boxing. We are preparing for a strong Mexican fighter in Rey Vargas. Everyone knows what the Philippines vs. Mexico boxing rivalry brings to the ring.” 

Vargas smiled when I asked him via a Zoom call about a Philippines vs Mexico rivalry. Neatly dressed, wearing thin-framed glasses, and as well spoken as my new doctor, Vargas said, “I don’t know anything about any rivalry.” 

Then he said something you don’t hear too many fighters say.

“I’m just focused on Magsayo. I look at a guy’s corner. I see Freddie Roach there, so I know I’m going up against not just a great fighter, but a great team.” 

It’s a team his team is familiar with. “We went up against Roach once before. We know what we are going up against.” 

In May 2012, Vargas outpointed the Roach-trained Azat Hovhannisyan over 12 rounds. However, in Vargas’ own corner he has the dean of Mexican boxing trainers in Nacho Beristain. And Nacho possibly knows Vargas better than he knew any of his other fighters. Vargas’s father was a boxer in the 1970s and sparred often with the fabulous featherweight champion Vicente Saldivar, who was managed and trained by Nacho. 

From the time that Vargas could walk, he was in a boxing gym. Instead of a pre-school with colored chalk, Vargas was raised with leather gloves and instead of letters from the alphabet, speed bags hung from the walls. At an age when most children are learning their kindergarten classmates’ names, Vargas was learning which punches fighters like Juan Manuel Marquez liked to throw. 

“My favorite fighters growing up were Juan Manuel Marquez, Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles, who my father knew. And a fighter I don’t hear too many people speak about – Nicolino Locche.” 

You have to fight smart. Undefeated Former WBC World Super Bantamweight Champion - Rey Vargas

The Argentine, I told him, used to fight with his head down and still made you miss. Vargas was visibly pleased to hear that I knew of him. You like counterpunchers, I said. “You have to fight smart,” he replied. 

Vargas will need those smarts to turn back the charges of the undefeated champion. Magsayo defeated Gary Russell Jr. to win the championship – that’s all you need to know about him. But Vargas’s crib probably had a canvas mattress and was surrounded with four ropes. Originally trained by his father, he was throwing jabs before he learned to tie his laces. But unlike many father-son relationships in boxing, they have avoided the strains that sometimes comes out of that arrangement. You see, his father is a boxing lifer too. Though still active in the gym with his son, when he saw that Vargas had reached a certain level in boxing, he turned to his old friend Nacho to help take his son to the next step. That humbleness along with one strict rule they have has kept their relationships as father/son and trainer/boxer working. 

“Whenever we are home or away from the gym, we do not talk about boxing,” Vargas said. 

So far, they have been successful. Vargas is not only a former champion, but a technically solid fighter who doesn’t make mistakes in the ring and throws lots of punches. Especially counterpunches, like all of Nacho’s fighters. Vargas does fight a bit like Marquez used to. Because of his slighter taller than average height for a featherweight at 5-foot-10, he reminds me a bit of 1980s Mexican champion, Raul “Jibaro” Perez. And because of his quick and voluminous counters, he is similar to Salvador Sanchez. 

I didn’t mention that to Vargas though I think a fighter with his appreciation of the game’s history might have got a kick out of hearing that. I also wish I had more time to speak with him so that then I could have told him that one of his idols, Nicolino Locche, fought a distant cousin of mine in a title fight. But Vargas had a lot to do that day. He had more interviews to do, training, strategizing, and resting. As busy as he was, I doubt he would have called it work. It’s boxing. Something he has been doing all his life. 

For a closer look at Rey Vargas, check out his fighter page.

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The rising unbeaten lightweight sensation takes another step toward a world title - and stardom - when he faces the smooth-boxing Jackson Marinez in a PBC event Saturday night on SHOWTIME.

Most people, when they look at a lump of clay, see … well, just a lump of clay. But highly skilled artists, a group in which certain boxing trainers form a relatively small subset, see that lump of clay and envision the potential champion contained within. 

The possibilities for such highly fulfilled expression rests not only in the mind and expertise of the trainer, but as much or more so in the unrefined talent level of the fighter who consents to subjecting himself to the rigors of the process of transformation.

With a 15-0 record and 11 victories inside the distance, lightweight prospect Frank “The Ghost” Martin, at 27, might best be described at this time as a work in progress. But his esteemed trainer, Derrick James, has a vision of when the daily sculpting done in his Dallas gym might reach fruition. If all goes according to plan, Martin – a rising lightweight who squares off against late replacement Jackson Marinez (19-2, 7 KOs) Saturday night in San Antonio, Texas, in the Alamodome – eventually will take his place alongside, or at least in close proximity, to James’ prize pupils, WBC/WBA/IBF World Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22 KOs) and Undisputed World Super Welterweight Champion Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo (38-1-1, 19 KOs).

“Frank didn’t have that long an amateur career (58 bouts), but he did beat Vergil Ortiz in the finals of the National Golden Gloves,” James noted. “Even then Frank showed great athleticism, phenomenal hand speed and outstanding coachability. He wants to be great, and that’s what’s going to take him there. Some guys have that kind of talent, but you can’t tell them anything.”

Martin, a southpaw as is his role model and promoter, Man Down Promotions head Spence, listens to James’ instructions and puts the requisite time in to incorporate them into his evolving skill set. But despite his highest ranking in the 135-pound weight class currently being No. 14 from the WBO, he dares to think a shortcut to the big fights and big paydays he dreams of is possible instead of taking the more standard longer way around.

“I feel like I have to play catch-up, even with getting people to know who I am,” he said of the grand vision quest he is convinced is his destiny. “Just being in the mix longer. It’s kind of, like, `Who is this guy?’

“I’m trying to get something (a world title shot) by the end of this year, maybe the beginning of next year.  Nobody specific. The next fight (after Marinez) I’m really looking for is a title eliminator that gets me to where one of those guys got to fight me.”

First, he must get past Marinez in the televised opener of a Premier Boxing Champions event Saturday night on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT). Daring to look too far ahead represents a common pitfall that can impair even an accomplished fighter’s progress, but James understands Martin’s impatience even as he counsels him to wait until his time to shine even more brightly arrives in due course. 

Toward that end, having Marinez in the opposite corner might represent more of a learning experience than might have been the case with his originally scheduled opponent, Ricardo Nunez (21-3, 19 KOs), a free-swinging big hitter from Panama who was unable to resolve a visa issue and was replaced on Tuesday by a fighter with a pronouncedly different style. Marinez, a Dominican who is taller and more technically proficient in a purely boxing sense, will offer Martin another opportunity to demonstrate that he can shift gears on the fly, as it were.

I understand I got talent, but I don’t let that get to me. I work hard. Undefeated Lightweight Prospect - Frank Martin

“They were saying early last week that (an opponent switch) was possible,” James said. “I found out (Tuesday) it was true. But the way I teach and we work, it’s open. We work on so many different things. It just so happens that we’d been working on something basically set up for a fighter like this, a tall guy who’s a boxer. What we do in the fight should be implemented within that, within our system. It should not be a problem.

“We’re constantly building, we’re constantly developing. Those big fights could start coming within a year or two. Who knows? For now we’re just going to keep tweaking this and tweaking that, so when it’s time to step up he can do so.”

For his part, Martin appears to be taking the sudden switch of Nunez to Marinez in stride. And why not? No matter how much preparation he might have put in to face a certain style in training camp, there is no guarantee that the other guy will not unveil some unanticipated wrinkles of his own on fight night. Sliding seamlessly from Plan A to Plan B or even Plan C is the hallmark of any rising star intent on demonstrating he is not a one-trick pony.

“It’s just about me adapting,” said Martin, the Detroit-born, Indiana-raised and now-Texas-based chameleon who relishes the notion of showcasing his complete pugilistic portfolio at the present time, although he knows from his work with James that further diversification is always possible, and certainly preferable.

“[Marinez] is different, a taller guy. He throws shots from different angles. He’s a boxer. Really, it’s just me adjusting to that style. I do believe he’s a better opponent than Ricardo Nunez.

“I got talent. I understand I got talent, but I don’t let that get to me. I work hard. I work hard all the time. I do a lot extra because I always feel that I’m playing catch-up. I can’t be caught chillin’. I’m always trying to learn.”

It was that determination to raise himself up to the next level, and the level above that, which made Martin, with much figurative clay still encasing his early development, decided to come to Dallas and make his case for entering the inner circle as represented by Spence, Charlo and James.

“My brother (Maurice James) was working with him in the gym,” Derrick said. “We eventually went to lunch – me, Frank, his cousin Jalen Smith, who was a linebacker with the Cowboys at the time. I had talked to Errol before I talked to Frank, to see if this was someone he might be interested in signing and promoting. Errol said, `Yeah, I like him.’ So I talked to Errol and from there we kind of got it going, and he moved in permanent.”

Permanent, maybe, but Frank Martin is still seeking a more prestigious place at the table, his own share of the glory and all the perks that come with it. Saturday night, he hopes to author another chapter in his story of personal growth and commitment.

For a closer look at Frank Martin, check out his fighter page.

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The former WBC 122-pound champion says he's better than ever as he prepares to make his featherweight debut against Carlos Castro in a WBC World Title Eliminator Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.

Brandon Figueroa didn’t hide in his house nor did he sulk. The former WBC super bantamweight world champion reflected after his first loss as a professional last November. 

For the first time, Figueroa will be entering the ring picking up the pieces after a defeat when he debuts as a featherweight against Carlos Castro Saturday night on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing® (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs) says he’s learned from his majority-decision loss to Stephen Fulton; a super bantamweight title unification fight that turned into a raucous back-and-forth 2021 Fight of the Year candidate. He also admits that making 122 was beginning to affect his body, which forced the move to 126 and this WBC featherweight 12-round title eliminator against Castro (27-1, 12 KOs).

But overall, he says, nothing has changed.

The 25-year-old remains steadfast in his self-belief that he’s a winner. He also remains resolute that the Fulton loss came because of what he did not do, as opposed to anything Fulton did.

Perhaps the greatest push arrived in how he handled adversity for the first time in his professional career.

“I’m a winner, and that won’t change. I understand that I have to use my abilities better and I’m approaching this fight in tremendous shape; I can’t wait to get in there,” Figueroa said. “I took my first loss and no one is harder on me than I am on myself, above anything said or written. That whole week after I lost, I went back home and brushed it off. The beauty about boxing is that no matter what, you always start off at square one, even if you win. This was about me getting back up, to keep moving on, and moving forward and keep proving everyone wrong. I want to continue proving that I deserve to be in this sport and that I can rebound from a loss.

“You see the great champions like Manny Pacquiao, and (Juan Manuel) Marquez, that have constituted to me that they are the best and they’ve lost. If anything, a loss probably makes you better. It makes you stronger. To me, I love boxing and what happened was a miss, and I’ll admit that it hurt, obviously being my first loss, but I never ran away. To me, I didn’t really lose, but the loss is there.

“This will make me stronger and tougher.”

Figueroa prides himself on being a positive person. Yes, he says, that optimism received a jolt. He stressed, however, that it hasn’t changed him.

He arrived home, in Weslaco, Texas, and stayed within his tight cocoon, surrounding himself with family and friends for just over a week. The loss did not affect him the way he thought it would have. If anything, Figueroa was more anxious to get back into the gym.

As soon as the Fulton fight was made available to him, he watched it by himself and with his family.

Figueroa found himself watching more of what he was doing than observing Fulton, cursing at the screen over the mistakes he felt that he made during the fight.

This is a better version of myself. That’s what everyone will see on Saturday night, July 9. Former WBC World Super Bantamweight Champion - Brandon Figueroa

“I saw what was working and what didn’t,” Figueroa said. “I took a week and a half off, and I went back to the gym on my own. No one had to tell me to go back. I had to get back. I have to stop letting my anger in the ring get the best of me. I guess the second part of getting better is being more technical. I need to look for shots that make sense. I need to be more technical and use a boxing-type of style.

“I also have to adapt faster, especially moving up to 126 pounds. There are a lot of things that I have to work on. I’m not making 122 pounds. That’s non-existent. I train my butt off every time I fight. I was 110-percent the night I fought Fulton. I’m 5-foot-8, and I was struggling to make 122. I’ve been making 122 since I was 17. My body has grown. There was stress, a lot of stress. I’ve been battling an injury that I’ve had for years, but I can’t, and I won’t say that I went into the Fulton fight at 95-percent. No, I was full strength and 100-percent that night.”

Figueroa has been training for two months for the Castro fight. He says he knows Castro, 28, is a good fighter with an exciting style. He realizes both he and Castro will be looking to make an early statement at 126.

“I feel that I’ll be a lot stronger at 126, and my dad was telling me there is a difference in my hand speed on the mitts and when I hit the body-protector,” Figueroa said. “I feel stronger, I feel more explosive than I did at 122. If people were impressed with my conditioning at 122, just imagine what it’s going to be like at 126. This is a better version of myself. That’s what everyone will see on Saturday night, July 9.

“Castro will come to fight. He’ll bring out the best of me and I hope I bring the best out of him. I can’t wait to put everything together in eight-ounce gloves. What everyone will see is a better fighter overall, who uses the jab more and is more patient. I want to showcase my power and, of course, I’d like to fight Stephen Fulton again, this time at 126. That fight was fast-paced for me coming forward. I learned I need to apply pressure better and what I learned from the Fulton fight is to not come straight at him. I should have worked more angles. I didn’t really have much of a boxing background, but after that fight, I want to show people that I can box and I can brawl, when I need to. It’s something that I must adjust and become a little better at doing.

“At 126, this is the most comfortable I’ve felt in a while.”

For a closer look at Brandon Figueroa, check out his fighter page. 

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An in-depth analysis of Saturday night's PBC on SHOWTIME triple-header headlined by a battle of unbeatens as Mark Magsayo defends his WBC World Featherweight Title against former champion Rey Vargas.

It's fight week on The PBC Podcast as we break down Saturday night's entire PBC on SHOWTIME triple-header, including the mouthwatering main event featuring unbeaten Mark Magsayo defending his WBC World Featherweight Title against undefeated former world champ Rey Vargas at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, live on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). Plus, hosts Kenneth Bouhairie and Michael Rosenthal salute recently retired modern great, Mikey Garcia, and list their top five hall of fame candidates among today's active fighters. 

The PBC Podcast is a weekly boxing show featuring timely analysis and interviews with the sport’s biggest figures. The show is published every Wednesday on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Spreaker and other outlets. Alternatively, listeners can find The PBC Podcast on the PBC website at www.premierboxingchampions.com/podcast

It's Fight Week! Magsayo vs. Vargas

THU, JAN 01, 1970

PBC Podcast

TOMORROW: Magsayo vs Vargas

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The unbeaten Filipino Warrior is looking to make a statement when he defends his WBC 126-pound crown against the undefeated Rey Vargas Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.

Mark Magsayo started boxing when he was an eight-year-old living in poverty. He promptly lost his first three fights, which elicited a predictable reaction from his father: “Just stop boxing. You have no future in it.”

Thank goodness for the Filipino’s sake that he defied dad.

Almost 20 years later the 27-year-old protégé of Manny Pacquiao is unbeaten and a world champion, the result of a stunning victory over long-reigning WBC featherweight titleholder Gary Russell Jr. this past January.

An additional reward is the ability to improve the standard of living of those closest to him, including his parents. He recently bought them a home in Bohol province and set them up in the baking business.

“I didn’t believe my father,” said Magsayo, who makes his first defense against undefeated former champ Rey Vargas on July 9 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, live on SHOWTIME (9p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). “I believed in myself, that I could do this. I trained hard and I won and won and won. I’m proud of myself. I worked hard since I was eight and my dream came true. I’m a world champion.

“And now I bought my family a house. I’m so happy. It’s way better than before.”

Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) didn’t have to look far for inspiration when he stepped into the gym for the first time. It was around the time, in 2003, that Pacquiao knocked out Mexican star Marco Antonio Barrera in his most important victory to date.

The wide-eyed young Filipino watched the fight on television and knew instantaneously what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to be like Pacquiao.

Magsayo has the natural gifts necessary to succeed. He’s quick handed and has one-punch knockout power, just like Pacquiao at that weight. He even has Pacquiao’s thick, powerful legs, one reason the future Hall of Famer was so durable throughout his career.

And he has one more thing in common with Pacquiao, who is now his promoter: The dedication required to continue to grow as a fighter.

“They have the same work ethic,” said their common trainer, Freddie Roach. “They just love to train hard and conquer every obstacle put in front of them. Mark truly believes in himself and his abilities. That comes from doing his homework and coming into Wild Card prepared every day.

“And, yes, he’s getting better. He’s 20% better than he was two months ago. He’s never satisfied. And that might be the key to everything about him.”

One thing Magsayo doesn’t do is try to be the next Manny Pacquiao, which would be setting himself up for failure. As he put it, “There’s only one Manny Pacquiao.”

I worked hard since I was eight and my dream came true. I’m a world champion. Undefeated WBC World Featherweight Champion - Mark Magsayo

Magsayo’s plan is to continue to use Pacquiao as inspiration, take the Filipino senator’s advice whenever he offers it and carve out his own niche in the sport, however that might look in the end.

He’s certainly off to a good start. He dominated second-tier opposition during his rise to prominence and continued to win on the next level, most notably victories over Julio Ceja in August of last year and the majority decision over Russell.

Magsayo showed vulnerability in the fight with Ceja, who was leading on all cards after nine rounds. Roach said he needs work on his movement. However, in the 10th round, Magsayo stung Ceja with an overhand right and followed moments later with two more rights that rendered Ceja unconscious and ended the fight in an instant.

The sensational knockout dazzled fans and earned him a shot at Russell, one of the most-respected boxers in the business.

Magsayo stunned the boxing world by winning a majority decision in a strange fight, one in which Russell, a southpaw, injured (or re-injured) his right shoulder in the fourth round. The slick veteran used movement and his left hand to fight Magsayo on even terms the rest of the way.

Some have suggested the injury was a gift to Magsayo, who might not have won otherwise. He thinks Russell might’ve been fortunate.

“If that shoulder is not hurt, maybe there’s a knockout there,” he said. “My counter was very effective that fight. My counter and my speed and my power was very effective. And that time that he got hurt he was always running.

“It’s hard to catch him when your opponent is running and is a good fighter.”

Magsayo learned a great deal in that fight. For example, he figured out how to adjust after Russell changed his tactics. And he’ll use the perception that he was fortunate to get the decision as added motivation going into the fight with Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs), a tall, talented boxer.

Also, you know he has put in the work. He has been training for three full months, a clear indication that his intention is to be an enduring champion.

“Conditioning is going to be a huge part of succeeding next Saturday and he didn’t cut one corner,” Roach said. “Physically, he’s there. Mark knows he is in tough against a taller fighter. He’s prepared to go into battle.”

He always is.

For a closer look at Mark Magsayo, check out his fighter page.

Mark Magsayo, Jose Valenzuela and The Top Five Under 25

THU, JAN 01, 1970

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