UPSET ALERT: Magsayo Beats Russell Jr; Wins WBC Featherweight Title!

Mark Magsayo Crowned the New WBC Featherweight Champion

Mark Magsayo poses at fight weigh-in for Gary Russell Jr fight
Mark Magsayo poses at fight weigh-in for Gary Russell Jr fight

WBC Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr Loses Title in War with Mark Magsayo!

In his latest in-ring contest, WBC featherweight champion “Mr.” Gary Russell Jr (31-2, 18 KO’s) long standing reign as champion came to an end. This is because it took all the champ had to compete with the hard-charging and supremely confident Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo (24-0, 16 KO’s) due to injury. Despite his grit, fighting through the pain, Russell would go on lose by majority decision loss.

On the one hand, the way that the bout played out should not have come completely out of left field. Magsayo is both the younger fighter and was the far more active of the two. Magnifico was last in the ring just three months ago, when he knocked out Julio Ceja in the tenth round of that affair. In fact, the Filipino bruiser has staged three matches versus Rigoberto Hermosillo, Pablo Cruz and the aforementioned Julio Cruz since Russell last competed against Tugstsogt Nyambayar.

Not only this, Mr. entered the bout with his father and chief second, Gary Russell Sr., in somewhat dire medical straits. In just the last few months Russell Sr, who suffers from diabetes, had one of his feet amputated. Due to his medical woes he was a greatly diminished presence in this training camp. With this backdrop, it’s no wonder that Mr. had his hands full, not to mention that Magsayo has earned strong #1 (WBO), #2 (WBC) and #5 (IBF) rankings. Then all that was topped with an in-ring injury! It certainly was not Russell’s night!


For the most part, the bout launched in respectful fashion. Neither competitor was overly aggressive or reckless and both worked behind competent jabs. Magsayo’s dramatic size advantage was immediately evident and the Filipino landed the hardest and more meaningful shots of the period. His right uppercut made its presence felt in the first and second rounds. Russell’s slickness shined throughout the second as he caused Magsayo to badly miss with regularity.  

In the third, Russell enjoyed a good amount of success timing Magnifico coming in. The bout underwent a huge early fight shift. During an exchange at the top of the fourth, Russell clearly grimaced and cried out in pain after jamming his right shoulder. Yet despite his evident pain, he fought on without further issue. By the fifth round however, the shoulder did seem to be a problem. This is because virtual no offense came from that arm and the southpaw threw zero jabs in that round. As a result, the champion was notably more mobile.

Limited to one paw, Russell continued to display his slick moves evading a substantial amount of Magsayo’s offense in the seventh. Oddly enough, Russell’s effectiveness continued to improve with his limited offense. The DC native routinely spun, slipped and dodged his way out of danger. Just as impressively, Russell kept himself lined up with Magsayo in such a fashion as to fire his working left arm straight down the middle. This is not to say that the Filipino was only hitting air. His knuckles certainly hit pay dirt with regularity, however Mr.’s defense had a life of its own.


During the eleventh Magsayo’s offense began clicking again. Here he was able to submit some worthwhile and eye-catching body work. The first half of the final period saw Magnifico pursuing an evasive Russell around the ring, but the second half would see the champion fend off the challenger as best he could with one hand.

At the conclusion of the bout, there was real tension when it came to who would be declared the victor. When the cards were read however, Mark Magsayo was crowned as the new WBC featherweight champion by way of majority decision! The exciting win ended the longest reign of the current world champions! Now it will be fun to see where both men go from here.

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By: Bakari Simpson

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