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Sports

Weight no issue for Magsayo

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

The nutritionist who got Hidilyn Diaz ready for last year’s Tokyo Olympics will leave for the US today to join undefeated Mark Magsayo’s team for his title crack against WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Jan. 22. Despite the rise in COVID cases in the US, MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said yesterday it’s all systems go for Magsayo’s fight of a lifetime.

Magsayo, 26, has been training at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles with coach Freddie Roach, assistant coach Marvin Somodio and conditioning coach Pedro Garcia. He arrived in LA with wife Frances from Manila in July 2020 and has since chalked up three wins, including a knockout over former world titlist Julio Ceja last August to set up the shot at Russell’s throne. Magsayo’s team will leave LA for New Jersey on Jan. 18. “Ready na si Mark,” said Somodio. “Mas disciplined siya at alam niya nakasalalay ang kinabukasan niya dito.”

Nutritionist Jeaneth Aro said the WBC’s weight management protocols are unique in that reports are made 30, 14 and seven days before the fight to conform to limits. The close monitoring will avoid severe dehydration to make weight at the scales on the eve of the fight. “Meron kaming mga weight cut-offs na dapat ma-meet,” said Aro. She explained that under WBC rules, a fighter may go over the weight limit by up to 10 percent 30 days before a bout, five percent two weeks before and three percent seven days before.

Although Aro is based in Manila, she is in close contact with Magsayo and his wife. “Super disciplined si Mark, wala akong masabi,” she said. “Frances is very hard-working at masunurin. Pinoy foods lang lahat binibigay ko kay Mark, ayaw niya ng foreign foods. May rice at ulam plus gulay, tapos eggs and milk.” Aro said Magsayo isn’t choosy with fruits and he takes in whatever is in season. “Bananas, apples, oranges, grapes ang kinakain niyang madalas na fruits,” she continued. “Mahilig siya sa bulalo, actually. Nag-fried foods din once in a while.” Aro provides the recipes that Magsayo’s wife uses to cook his food.

Russell, 33, was inactive last year and will end a layoff of 23 months when he takes on Magsayo. It’ll be his sixth title defense and he’s coming in as a heavy betting favorite. Early odds showed Russell a -714 favorite and Magsayo, a +400 underdog. A southpaw, Russell is known for his dazzling handspeed and smarts. His record is 31-1, with 18 KOs and the only stain was a loss by majority decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2014. “I’m going through a man who’s prepared to place all of it on the road with all the things to achieve and nothing to lose,” said Russell.

MARK MAGSAYO

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