CEBU CITY, Philippines – The six-year reign of Gary Russell Jr. as the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight champion has finally come to an end after he played on Saturday (Sunday Manila time) in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Five boxers challenged Russell Jr. out and they all faltered to take the title until Magsayo made it 12 laps with Russell Jr. did, resulting in a majority decision.
One judge, Lynne Carter, even scored the match at 114-114. Two judges, Mark Consentino and Henry Grant, scored 115-113 in favor of Magsayo.
“My dream came true. My dream as a child, this is my dream, to become a world champion,” an emotional 26-year-old Magsayo told ring announcer Jim Gray after the decision was announced.
Magsayo remained undefeated with 24 wins with 16 knockouts, while 33-year-old Russell suffered his second loss with 13 wins and 18 knockouts.
However, the fight could have turned out differently were it not for Russell Jr’s right shoulder injury.
Magsayo came out as more aggressive between the two boxers from the start, putting Russell Jr. under pressure with hooks and uppercuts, which usually landed on the body.
Russell Jr. tried to keep the pace in check with his counter-left straights and jabs until round six, when he hurt his right shoulder after going toe-to-toe with Magsayo.
After that, the American world champion became more defensive, never throwing a single jab until the last bell. Instead, he counted on his counter-punches as he was pressured by Magsayo, who kept moving forward with combinations.
Magsayo slowed in the middle rounds, forcing Russell Jr. got the chance to land a good number of straights on the left half, keeping the scorecards close together.
However, Magsayo’s punch output became the biggest factor of the match’s outcome. The Boholano boxer, who is trained by Hall-of-Fame trainer Freddie Roach, launched combination after combination after sensing Russell Jr. threw no more jabs.
Magsayo closed the distance Russell Jr. cornered had hit the ropes several times and landed clean combinations, especially in the last two laps.
When asked if Magsayo would be willing to hire Russell Jr. to give a rematch, the boxer said it would be up to his promoter and manager, Sean Gibbons.
For Russell Jr. he deserves a rematch with Magsayo.
“I hadn’t participated for two years. That’s what champions do, regardless of injury. I gave him a boxing lesson, I landed clean, but I couldn’t use my right arm,” said Russell Jr.
“I still want this fight, I want to get my shoulders back. I fought with one arm, the whole fight I gave him a boxing lesson. I will have a rematch with him,” Russell said.
It was later discovered that Russell Jr. fought a torn tendon in his right shoulder two weeks before the fight during his training camp.
On the other hand, Manny Pacquiao, the only eight-division boxing world champion and presidential candidate, immediately tweeted to congratulate Magsayo, who fights under MP Promotions.
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