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Sports

Magsayo wins world crown

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Magsayo wins world crown
Mark Magsayo jars Gary Russell Jr. with a solid right.
AFP

Dream comes true for Boholano pug

MANILA, Philippines — It’s what he’d dreamed of since turning pro in 2013 and now, Mark Magsayo is the new WBC featherweight champion. He scored a majority 12-round decision over defending titlist Gary Russell Jr. in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Saturday night (yesterday morning, Manila time) and dethroned the longest reigning beltholder in boxing today.

After the fight, Magsayo got on the phone and spoke to his father Joseph who was in their Tagbilaran hometown. When Magsayo lost three in a row as an amateur fighter, his father advised him to quit the ring. But Magsayo persisted, persevered and wanted to prove he could follow in the footsteps of his idol Sen. Manny Pacquiao. With his prize money, Magsayo said he’ll buy his parents a house and lot. From his previous fights, he staked his father’s bakery business and bought him a banca.

“Ginawa namin ang lahat upang manalo,” said Magsayo. “Dasal kami ng asawa ko (Frances) na ibigay sa amin ng Diyos ang tagumpay. Pagkatapos kong tinalo si (Julio) Ceja, sabi ko kay (MP Promotions head) Sir Sean (Gibbons), ready na ako for Russell. Never ako nagpabaya. Noong ‘di ako nakalaban ng halos dalawang taon, tuloy ang training ko. Kaya sa pag-umpisa ako mag-boxing, featherweight ang timbang ko hanggang ngayon. Kondisyon palagi. Last Christmas Day, tumakbo ako sa bundok ng Griffith Park. ‘Di ko ramdam ang pagod sa sparring ng 12 rounds.” Magsayo said he wouldn’t have reached the top without support from Pacquiao, Gibbons, trainer Freddie Roach, assistant trainer Marvin Somodio, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and Frances.

Magsayo said he did more than enough to deserve a convincing win on points. For some reason, the judges turned in a close majority verdict as Lynne Carter saw it a draw, 114-114 and Henry Grant and Mark Consentino had it both 115-113 for the challenger. Magsayo admitted he strayed from the gameplan by trying to go for a one-punch knockout late in the fight but Roach got him back on track by reminding him to stay focused in between rounds. The stats showed a wide disparity with Magsayo landing 150 of 543 punches and Russell, only 69 of 323. The three judges concurred in awarding five rounds to Magsayo and only three for Russell.

Magsayo said Russell screamed in pain after he was hit on the right shoulder in the fourth round and fought one-armed the rest of the way. Russell later said he injured the shoulder in training two weeks ago and added it originally bothered him before the 2008 Olympics. Magsayo said he was hurt by a body shot in the ninth round but didn’t back off. In the 10th, Magsayo noticed Russell was staggered and cross-eyed by a stinging left jab. When it was announced that he had won, Magsayo was overwhelmed. “Parang nasa langit ako,” he said. “Masayang masaya ako at sa venue, halos kalahati ng crowd Pinoy. Sabi sa akin ni Frances, proud siya sa ginawa ko. Napabilib ko rin ang Papa ko.”

MARK MAGSAYO

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