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.