Magsayo’s mission

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Mark Magsayo’s reign as WBC featherweight champion was short-lived and he hardly warmed his seat on the throne last year. He was defrocked after six months and hasn’t gotten over the pain. Now, Magsayo is campaigning as a superfeatherweight and his mission is to win a second world title before next year ends.

Last Saturday, Magsayo took the first step forward in his pursuit. He knocked out Mexico’s Isaac Avelar in the third round with a single left hook in an eight-rounder in Long Beach. It was his 130-pound debut. “Mark made a statement (that) he’s back,” said MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons. “He put everyone on notice at 130 which is (now) his weight and he’s looking at big things in 2024.” The plan is for Magsayo to figure in a world title eliminator in March or April then go for all the marbles.

The problem is Magsayo isn’t rated in the superfeatherweight division. At least, not yet. Avelar, 26, started his pro career on a high note, racing to a 15-0 record but from a reputation as a prospect, he’s been downgraded to a fringe palooka. Avelar has lost seven of his last nine and his defeat to Magsayo was resounding. He went down twice. First after receiving a brutal combination. Then, crashing down hard from a left hook, leaving him flat on his back for at least five minutes before he was stretchered out of the ring.

Avelar wasn’t Magsayo’s original opponent. Magnifico was supposed to take on former WBA interim featherweight ruler Eduardo Ramirez but the fight was cancelled and Avelar came in on a month’s notice. Ramirez had stopped Avelar in the third round in 2021. Magsayo said he couldn’t care less whom he fought. With coach Marvin Somodio by his side, he was prepared to face either.

Magsayo said the win over Avelar ranks among his most spectacular knockouts along with Julio Ceja and Pablo Cruz. Avelar made it easy because he’s a come forward slugger. But Magsayo said the result would’ve been the same if he fought a stylist.

Magsayo is ranked No. 2 featherweight by WBC and No. 6 by The Ring. It’s not sure if the win over Avelar will catapult him into the superfeatherweight top 10. The expectation is winning a title eliminator will. The four 130-pound champions are WBC’s O’Shaquie Foster (21-2, 12 KOs), WBA’s Lamont Roach, Jr. (24-1-1, 9 KOs), IBF’s Joe Cordina (17-0, 9 KOs) and WBO’s Emanuel Navarrete (38-1-1, 31 KOs). Magsayo isn’t choosy and he’ll square off with any of the four. Cordina would be an intriguing opponent because the Welshman is unbeaten and defeated Charly Suarez on a disputed decision at the 2012 London Olympics. Navarrete, a three-division world champion, was held to a majority draw by Brazil’s Robson Conceicao in his second title defense last month. Foster beat Magsayo’s tormentor Rey Vargas and has won 11 in a row since 2016. Roach eked out a split decision to repulse Hector Luis Garcia for the crown last month. When the time comes, Magsayo will be pumped up to ascend the throne once more.

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