Magnifico makes move
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - July 27, 2019 - 12:00am

On Aug. 31, Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo battles former world champion Panya Uthok (aka Pungluang Sor Singyu Onesong) at the Bohol Wisdom Gym in his hometown of Tagbilaran, Bohol. At stake will be the WBC Asia featherweight title as well as the IBF Pan-Pacific featherweight title. This is a major step in the young pug’s consistent rise to world championship contender. The last two years have not been easy for this great, undefeated talent, and he prefers to look forward after all the upheavals.

“I’m excited to be fighting in front of my friends and family,” Magsayo told The STAR. “We’re expecting at least 3,500 people to show up. I want to thank everyone who has been kind enough to support me. I will do my best to put on a good fight.”

Magsayo (19-0 with 14 knockouts) made his pro debut in 2013, and started out like a tsunami, fighting four times that year and five times in 2014. In 2015, he scored an impressive TKO win over Rafael Reyes for the vacant IBF Youth featherweight belt, and was immediately on everyone’s radar. His impressive combination of speed and power, blended with great technical proficiency and patience, revealed maturity beyond his years. He was dropping opponents at a surprising rate, and impressing critics locally and internationally. He was beating rivals from Korea, Thailand and other countries at an exciting pace, and looked easily headed for a world title.

In February of 2016, Magsayo scored a unanimous decision win over Eduardo Montoya for the WBO version of his title, and followed this up with two wins involving the same crown. Two years ago, Magsayo blasted Daniel Diaz into submission via TKO for the WBO International featherweight title, and has defended the title twice.

He was constantly getting better, had great management, and always seemed to be enjoying himself. It appeared that there was no limit to what he could accomplish. And he made it look easy. In a matter of time, the 24-year-old would be fighting for a world title like his idols.

In 2018, Magsayo did not fight, and had a falling out with the major TV network that was covering his fights. “They’re mad at me,” was all he would say, choosing not to dwell on the matter. He now lists his address as Kuala Lumpur, where his management team hails from. After taking a step back to sort matters out, things seem to be getting magnificent again.

The fight against Uthok (53-6, 35 KOs) will not be a cakewalk for Magsayo. The 29-year-old Thai won the vacant WBO world bantamweight title by knocking out Ryo Akaho in August of 2015, and made one successful title defense. He lost the crown to Marlon Tapales via a vicious knockout in 2016. Each fighter had knocked the other down until Tapales finished off the champion towards the end of the bout. Onesong suffered a broken jaw in Round 9 but bravely fought on. After a two-year layoff, Uthok lost two more fights, seemingly showing a weakness against Filipino fighters and struggling with his weight. He would like nothing more than to use the Filipino to catapult himself back to prominence.

“I dedicate this fight to my countrymen, and all those who believe in me,” Magsayo added.

The only question mark left on Magsayo’s impressive resumé is a big win over a formidable, world championship-level opponent. That is what Onesong will provide. The Thai predominantly fought at home, and will be in hostile territory. He will also be unfamiliar with the weight class, and how hard featherweights hit. If Magsayo puts on his usual dazzling performance and gets his 15th KO, the world will have to sit up and take notice again.

A world championship won’t be long in coming for the magnificent one.

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