From Bohol to the world
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - September 2, 2019 - 12:00am

TAGBILARAN, Bohol – Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo lived up to the hype, hammering out an impressive unanimous decision win over Pongluang Sorsingyu Panye Uthok to claim the vacant WBC Asia featherweight championship at the Bohol Wisdom School gymnasium here. Uthok, who recently had dalliances with higher weights all the way up to welterweight, is a two-time former WBA bantamweight titleholder. The diminutive Thai displayed great skill, an iron jaw and rock-hard head to last the distance. Magsayo landed hundreds of scoring jabs, most of them on Uthok’s forehead, but the visitor kept plodding forward, smiling all throughout, looking like a miniature Efren Reyes when he grinned after being hit. Though he did throw som quality shots, Magsayo was never in any danger.

The win was the Tagbilaran native’s 20th without a loss. Magsayo had knocked out three of his last four opponents prior to the bout, while Uthok had lost three of his last four at weights ranging from welterweight to lightweight and super bantamweight. He has said that he was going to knock Magsayo out, but by the fourth round, it was evident that he didn’t have the power to do so. Still, he relentlessly moved forward, taking the fight to Magnifico, and absorbing a lot of punishment.

“I’m very happy with this win, especially in front of my kababayan,” Magsayo gushed after the fight. “I trained very hard and had a lot of support. Thank God.”

The maiden event of Vladimir Boxing Promotions was a polished, resounding success. Even a sudden downpour did not deter fans from trooping to the venue for a long night of fights that ended past midnight. From an event organizational standpoint, the attention to detail was commendable. Almost all of the necessary personnel were in Bohol at least two days before the bout, shepherded by Vladimir Promotions staff to Tagbilaran City Hall for the press conference Thursday, the weigh-in at the nearby mall Friday, and the fights themselves. And all throughout, everyone involved was cared for and well-fed. All in all, it was a professionally run event. The entire card was streamed live on rappler.com.

“It was hard to put together, but it was definitely worth it,” says Frances Magsayo, Mark’s wife and a director of Vladimir Promotions. “We want to show that we can hold big fights and even world championships in the provinces. We don’t have to send our boxers abroad.”

Last week, Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra expressed his concern over the unusually high number of Filipino boxers who have lost bouts in Thailand recently. This year alone, over a dozen Filipinos have lost bouts in Thailand, even undefeated fighters, and some under suspicious circumstances. This raises the need for an investigation into how some of our neighboring countries cheat Filipino boxers who fly over for major fights. Having them fly over eliminates any risk or suspicion of cheating. 

What is next for Mark Magsayo? He is currently ranked in the top 10 in his division under the WBC. The win over Uthok could vault him into the top five and possible contender status. But just to make sure, Magsayo’s camp is exploring a possible match-up with another former world champion as soon as possible, most likely within October. Whether or not that opponent is available, he will still fight before the year ends, once again in the first quarter of 2020, and hopefully a world title fight by middle of next year. 

This early, there is the possibility if working with Al Haymon’s group, whom the WBC works exclusively with in the biggest boxing markets. This will mean that Magsayo is moving up to the big league, and he will get exposure in the US, where the big money is. When all of that happens, Magsayo will have the clout to bring his title fights to the Philippines.

BOXING MARK “MAGNIFICO” MAGSAYO PONGLUANG SORSINGYU PANYE UTHOK
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