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Sports

Magsayo camp sees KO win

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Magsayo camp sees KO win
Mark Magsayo flashes a smile as he easily makes weight on the eve of his title bout against WBC featherweight champion Gary Russel Jr. in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — WBC featherweight champion Mark Magsayo is the only Filipino world titlist standing and he’s determined to turn back Mexican challenger Rey Vargas at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday night (Sunday morning, Manila time) to keep the flag flying. Magsayo and his team will leave Los Angeles today for San Antonio where Manny Pacquiao stopped Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003 and Jorge Solis in 2007. The Alamodome was the San Antonio Spurs’ home in the NBA before transferring to the AT&T Center in 2002.

It won’t only be a battle between fighters but also between Hall of Fame trainers. Magsayo is coached by Freddie Roach and Vargas by Nacho Beristain. Joining Roach in Magsayo’s corner will be assistant coach Marvin Somodio, cutman Mike Rodriguez and MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons’ son Brendan. Also in Magsayo’s team are his wife Frances, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro and strength/conditioning coach Pedro Garcia.

“Mark’s the new face of Philippine boxing,” said Gibbons. “I don’t consider Vargas a puncher and he’ll try to outbox Mark but Mark will cut him down. It’ll be a late knockout win for Mark, maybe in the 10th round. His work in the gym has been amazing. He’s stronger, his defense is tighter, his footwork is shiftier and his combinations are quicker.” Somodio said Magsayo has the tools to stop Vargas. “Sa tingin ko, kayang i-knockout ni Mark si Vargas pero focus kami kung paano manalo,” he said. “Malakas din si Vargas pero mas malakas si Mark. Mas mature na si Mark, maganda kondisyon sa tulong ni Jeaneth at Pedro.”

Magsayo, 27, wrested the WBC diadem from Gary Russell on a majority 12-round decision in Atlantic City last January. The win raised his record to 24-0 with 16 KOs. Vargas, 31, was the WBC superbantamweight champion and after five successful defenses, relinquished the throne to move up to featherweight. Vargas broke a leg during a training run and was inactive for over two years, prompting the WBC to declare him a champion-in-recess. Then he decided to invade the 126-pound division.

MARK MAGSAYO

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