Magsayo not rushing return

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

It’s been over a month since Mark Magsayo lost the WBC featherweight title to Mexico’s Rey Vargas on a split 12-round decision at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and the man called Magnifico isn’t rushing a return to the ring, patiently studying options while staying in shape by running miles in Los Angeles.

Magsayo, 27, hasn’t checked in for work at the Wild Card Gym since breaking camp for the Vargas fight. He’s taking his time before reporting back, clearing his head, enjoying no-pressure moments with wife Frances and rebuilding mentally to get ready for a comeback. Yielding the crown on his first defense was a heartbreaker but it’s not the end of the world. Magsayo is determined to regain the belt and MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said he’s sure it will happen.

“No plans yet,” said Gibbons. “Mark and Frances will wait until October then they’ll decide what’s next for training and fighting. As far as I know, Mark hasn’t been to the gym since the fight to take some time off. He just runs.” For Magsayo, it’s as important to be mentally ready as being physically in top shape. When the time comes for Magsayo to re-lace up the gloves, he’ll be stronger than ever.

Boxing News writer Lewis Watson recently featured Magsayo in a four-page magazine profile and revealed a side of the fighter not widely known. “I wasn’t born to be a boxer but I was born to be a fighter,” said Magsayo, quoted by Watson. “My family had nothing. We survived on $5 a day from my parents working in the local bakery (in Tagbilaran). At the age of eight, I was forced to sell ice cream on the (Bohol) beaches while my friends were playing and having fun. It was tough but that was life. And it’s typical of a Filipino family growing up in poverty.”

Magsayo related how he was introduced to boxing in 2003. “I had no idea about boxing until my family and I visited the ALA gym in Bohol,” he said. “It was newly opened and they were showing the first fight between Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera on TV. This memory is so special. Sen. Pacquiao was incredible that night and he alone inspired me to start boxing the next day. I was convinced that it was what I wanted to do.” Magsayo never imagined that nearly 20 years later, he would become a world champion.

Magsayo was favored to turn back Vargas, a former world superbantamweight titlist who had fought as a featherweight only once before against Leonardo Baez last year. “That bout came exactly two years after the Mexican courted controversy when traces of clenbuterol were found in his system and quickly written off by the WBC as a consequence of eating contaminated meat,” wrote Watson. Vargas executed a masterful plan that kept Magsayo at bay much of the fight. Magsayo scored a knockdown in the ninth but Vargas escaped tragedy by reverting to a stick-and-run routine that avoided any further dangerous engagement. Magsayo now knows the pain of losing a world title and it’s a hurt he won’t want to feel again.

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