It was not a magnificent win for Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo. But a win is a win.
The only suspense on Jan. 23, 2022 (PH time) in the Sunday Suspense Theater eagerly awaited by the crowd at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, was Magsayo’s vaunted knockout punch to happen.
It never came. Not even close.
Give it to Gary Russell Jr. He did his best to defend his World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight crown against Magsayo. And, even if his best was not enough, he came out a gallant loser in a fight he was supposed to lose badly.
Why because even before both boxers climbed the ring, Russell confessed he was hurting, that he was not 100 percent fit to fight.
By that, the 33-year-old American from Baltimore, Maryland, had ridiculously lost 50 percent of the fight even before the first bell was tolled.
“I am nursing an injury,” Russell had said.
That is why right from the starting blocks, Magsayo crowded Russell with a barrage of punches, hoping for an early finish.
But he was denied, mainly because of Russell’s famed ability to duck and weave, dance and traipse his way out of danger.
Although Russell absorbed some beating in the third, he still evaded Magsayo’s power punches that had knocked out 16 of his previous 23 victims in an unblemished 23-0, win-loss record prior to the fight.
It was also wondering how Russell had survived a jarring fourth-round shot that aggravated his right shoulder injury, reducing him into a virtual one-armed swordsman from the fifth up to the final 12th round.
So in the end, Russell was lucky to have lost by a majority decision, earning a surprising 114-114 draw from Lynne Carter after yielding 115-113 verdicts to the other two judges.
In inflicting Russell’s only second loss in 35 fights, Magsayo, the pride and joy of Tagbilaran City in Bohol, also snapped the dethroned champion’s seven-fight winning streak spanning his reign since 2015.
It was a close win, yes, but it was enough for the 26-year-old Magsayo to be overly ecstatic, telling the world: “My childhood dream has been realized. I am now a world champion!”
He did it under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, the legendary American trainer who made Manny Pacquiao the greatest Filipino boxer of all time.
Some guys are just damn lucky.
January 24, 2022
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