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Sports

Magsayo ready for Russell

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Magsayo ready for Russell
Mark Magsayo, right, and Gary Russell.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Mark Magsayo’s dream of fighting for the world title comes true at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey, tonight (tomorrow morning, Manila time) and he’s ready to give it his all to come home with the belt. It won’t be easy dethroning WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell who’s making the sixth defense of the crown he took in 2015 but Magsayo, a heavy underdog, is locked in to pull a major upset.

“Mabilis, magaling at beterano si Russell,” said Magsayo. “Gagawin ko ang lahat sa loob ng ring. Ito na ang aking pagkakataon. Ang sabi ni coach Freddie (Roach), pasukin at sugurin ko. Forward movement ang kailangan, handspeed at footwork para mahabol ko siya. Ang ka-sparring ko kaliwete at mabilis kagaya ni Russell kaya handang-handa na ako. ‘Di ko sasayangin itong opportunity. Since 2013 noong ako’y nag-pro, ang pangarap ko ay lumaban ng world title fight. Magkakatotoo ang pangarap ko.”

MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons, who takes care of Magsayo, said he expects a battle of two halves. “Gary will come out quick in the first half,” said Gibbons. “As the fight progresses, Mark will get his timing and rhythm, impose his size and back up Gary. In the second half, Mark will pull away. I know Mark can drop a bomb and it could be over any time. Life’s all about timing and this is Mark’s time. He could win by knockout or decision but whatever, he’ll be the new world champion.”

Russell, 33, has a lot of talent but also a lot of baggage. “He comes from a boxing family,” said Gibbons. “He hasn’t fought in nearly two years and before that, was doing one fight a year since 2015. There was a question about his discipline because he went to the Olympics in 2008 but was severely dehydrated and never made it to the first weigh-in. Father Time may be catching up with him while Mark is peaking. Atlantic City will be neutral grounds since Gary is from Washington, D. C. and Mark fights out of LA. But it won’t matter if the fight’s on the moon or in Gary’s living room, there’s no stopping Mark. He’s coming to win the world title. When the bell rings, he’ll be in there to do the job.”

In Magsayo’s corner will be Roach, assistant trainer Marvin Somodio and conditioning coach Pedro Garcia. “Mark went from high school to college with Freddie who’s the best professor in the business,” said Gibbons. “Everything we planned has happened for Mark since he arrived in the US in 2020 – two tough fights, one eliminator and now a world title shot. If Mark beats Gary, he’ll put himself in a different stratosphere, he’ll change his family’s life and the generations of Magsayos to come. Sen. Manny Pacquiao gave Mark this opportunity. Now, it’s up to Mark to seize the moment.”

MARK MAGSAYO

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