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Magsayo on track

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2021 - 12:00am

A world title shot is coming soon for Tagbilaran’s Mark Magsayo who’s ranked No. 4 by the IBF, No. 6 by the WBC, No. 8 by the WBO and No. 9 by the WBA in the featherweight division. As long as he keeps improving and winning, MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons says the crack could be just around the corner, possibly even by the end of the year. Because Magsayo is ranked in the top 10 by the sport’s four most credible governing bodies, he’s a whiff away from challenging for a world crown. The IBF throne is vacant with two Englishmen, No. 1 Kid Galahad and No. 3 James Dickens, ahead of Magsayo in the ladder.

Curiously, the No. 2 slot is unoccupied. The WBO champion is Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete, the WBC titlist is American Gary Russell, Jr. (at 32, he’s held the crown for six years) and the WBA beltholders are Mexico’s Leo Santa Cruz (super) and China’s Xu Can (regular). The field is wide open for Magsayo. Last Monday, Magsayo sparred eight rounds with three different partners at the Wild Card Gym in L. A. He went three rounds with unbeaten19-year-old hometown southpaw Jalan (Sky) Walker (7-0, 6 KOs), three with 2019 Russian Students Union Youth champion Dariyal Kuchmenov and two with two-time world title challenger Mercito Gesta. The man called Magnifico is getting ready for his next fight on April 10, possibly in the undercard of a Showtime promotion at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Magsayo and wife Frances arrived in L. A. from Manila last July. “Mark works hard and is absolutely committed while Frances does everything for his betterment,” notes Gibbons. “I couldn’t ask more from nicer people. They’re like one in focus, they’re enjoying what they’re doing, no distractions. It’s home, gym, home.” Magsayo made his US pandemic debut against Mexican tough guy Rigoberto Hermosillo who lost by a split decision in L. A. last October. Gibbons says next in line is a “solid opponent to give him more rounds” then Magsayo might figure in a title eliminator. With trainer Freddie Roach, Gibbons says Magsayo’s improvement is impressive.

“Maraming tinuturo si coach Freddie,” says Magsayo. “Tinatanggal niya ang pagiging wild ko, tapos mayroon pa siya mga bagong angles at depensa na itinuro sa akin. Maganda ang training namin, naayos mga adjustments from last camp. Leksyon sa last fight, kailangan mas maraming suntok at focus sa laban, kailangan prepared ako to go 12 rounds. Dasal lang kami at sikap, sana makapanalo. Sunod lang ako kay Sir Sean at coach Freddie, focus lang sa laban. Laging dala ang Pilipinas sa puso ko.” Magsayo, 25, has a record of 21-0, with 14 KOs.

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