Congratulations to Mark Magsayo, our newly minted WBC Featherweight champion. Last Jan. 23, this young man from Bohol made the whole country proud by wresting the title from American Gary Russell Jr. who was making his 6th title defense.

Magsayo ended Russel’s reign which began way back in 2015. Coming into the fight, Russell (31-2, 18 KOs) had been the longest reigning champion in the sport and was a heavy favorite against “Magnifico” Magsayo.

THE FIGHT. In the first few rounds both fighters fought on even terms at the center of the ring, but the taller Magsayo had the slight advantage as he was able to find his range with his right hand.

Russell preferred to time Magsayo coming in and landed several clean left hands, but he appeared to hurt his right shoulder in the fourth which affected his output for the remainder of the fight.

In the middle rounds, sensing his foe’s infirmity, Magsayo stepped up his attack.

Russell kept things competitive by fighting back but he was clearly at a disadvantage as he usually sets up his left hand with his right jab. With him favoring his right shoulder, at times he was reduced to potshotting with his left hand.

In fairness to him, he would land a telling left straight every now and then to keep things honest, but Magsayo continued to be the aggressor and this was what won him majority of the rounds.

Russell appeared to tire in the 10th and Magsayo was able to hurt him with several combinations. Magsayo also shifted to a body attack which clearly affected Russell’s mobility and stamina.

The fight ended with both men standing but Magsayo was clearly (at least to this Last Rounder) the victor.

The scorecards were surprisingly too close (115-113 twice and 114-114), but what matters in the end is that Magsayo got the victory.

Afterward, Russell revealed that he had hurt his shoulder two weeks before the fight but didn’t want to cancel the bout. The long layoff also might have affected him as he last fought two years ago. Magsayo’s youth and vigor were also vital factors and all of these conspired to pave the road for Magsayo’s ascension to boxing stardom.

Magsayo (24-0, 16KOs) is in good company as previous Pinoy WBC featherweight champions were Manny Pacquiao and Luisito Espinosa.

Truly, “Magnifico” has come a long way. Not bad for a kid we used to watch in the undercards for the ALA Promotions boxing events here in Cebu.

LAST ROUND. It’s on one of my best buddies for life, Siegfred Melleza who celebrates his birthday this weekend. Cheers!