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Sports

Magsayo eyes return to throne

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Mark Magsayo is likely to face No. 1 contender Brandon Figueroa for the interim WBC featherweight title at a still undetermined venue in March this year with the winner elevated to the throne once champion Rey Vargas decides to vacate and focus on the 130-pound division.

Vargas survived a ninth-round knockdown to dethrone Magsayo on a split decision in San Antonio, Texas, last July and will battle O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC superfeatherweight title in Las Vegas on Feb. 11. If Vargas wins, he’ll relinquish the WBC featherweight crown. If Vargas loses, he could go back to the featherweight ranks and defend his WBC strap. Regardless of what Vargas decides to do, Magsayo is going all-out to beat Figueroa. Since losing to Vargas, Magsayo has switched camps from the Wild Card Gym to the Brickhouse Gym, both in Los Angeles. He’s now fully under trainer Marvin Somodio’s care with conditioning coach Pedro Garcia.

Figueroa, 25, is a former WBC/WBA superbantamweight champion. The Texan of Mexican descent is 5-8 with a 72 1/2 inch reach, five inches longer than Magsayo. His record is 23-1-1, with 18 KOs compared to Magsayo’s 24-1, with 16 KOs. Figueroa’s only loss was a majority decision to Stephen Fulton for the WBC/WBO superbantamweight titles in Las Vegas in 2021. Magsayo’s only defeat was to Vargas.

“Figueroa throws a lot of punches, he’s a volume guy,” said MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons. “It’ll be a heckuva fight. Let’s see if Mark’s smarts, footwork, power and speed will be enough to beat Figueroa. I predict Mark to be back on the mountain top where he belongs.” Gibbons said the fight could happen within the first two weeks of March. At the moment, it will be for the interim championship but if Vargas decides to surrender the belt before the bout, the title will be at stake. Somodio said once Magsayo’s fight date is sealed and an opponent is named, official training camp will open.

Magsayo, 27, has logged seven fights in the US, winning six. Of his 16 wins by KO, seven came in the first round. Known as “The Heartbreaker,” Figueroa is a switch-hitter who likes to fight on the inside. “That’s where I feel I do the most damage,” he said. “When I’m inside, I go to the body and do my thing. I can box, I can brawl – I know a bit of everything so I can mix it up.” Gibbons said Magsayo has what it takes to beat Figueroa and regain the title.

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