Gary Russell Jr. 125.5 vs. Mark Magsayo 125.5

WBC Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr. looked a bit drained on Friday afternoon to successfully defend his title against #1 Mark Magsayo Saturday night at SHOWTIME at the Borgata Hotel Casino, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

(Photo credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

The unbeaten Magsayo (23-0.16 KOs) also weighed in at 125.5 pounds, but looked a lot bigger and showed surprisingly more energy. At 26, Magsayo looked younger and more powerful than 33-year-old Russell Jr. (31-1-1, 18 KOs).

Russell is coming off an extended two-year absence since his last 126-pound WBC belt defense, and he may have spent quite a bit of time in the sport.

He’s been living his life and dealing with different things, which has resulted in him staying out of the ring a little longer than he usually does. Russell usually does it once every 12 months, but this time, he chose to say he’s been inactive for 23 months.

In Russell’s final fight in February 2020, he worked out a 12-round unanimous decision on Tugtsogt Nyambayar.

Although Russell won, he didn’t appear as intense as a year ago when he defeated Kiko Martinez by knockout in the fifth round in May 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Russell says he’s still active and his long layoffs don’t hurt him, but I think we saw a lot of rust in his last fight and we could see more on Saturday when he defends against Magsayo.

Other weights:

  • Subriel Mathias 140.5 vs Petros Ananyan 141
  • Tugstogt Nyambayer 128 vs. Joy Lucas 127.5.1
  • Abimael Ortiz 123 vs Ryan Allen 122
  • Lechon Rodriguez 156.5 vs. Sixto Suazo 156.5
  • Max Garland 146.5 vs Marek Black 142.5
  • Rashin Brown 124 vs Katsuma Akitsugi 123.5
  • Evan Holyfield 151.5 vs Chris Rollins 151.5

Contact ready to display skill set

“I’m happy, I’m hungry and ready to showcase my skill set again and show why I excel,” Gary Russell Jr. told Secondsout. “I grew up in an area where I wanted to be an Olympian and then got sick.

“At that point, I wanted to become the world champion to make up for them. When I hear the longest-serving champion, I think of the promise I made to the fans and the fans who supported me.

“Knowing that it was not in vain and that I am here now, I still have because of the love and support I have.

“I think he’s strong, he’s going to try to give his best,” Russell said when asked about the challenges Mark Magcio brings him. “He’ll try to make it a dog fight.

“I think the biggest challenge is preparing myself to the best of my ability. I’ve never honestly focused on my opponents so much. I’m glad he’s a fighter who’s willing to go out there and put everything on the line, though,” said Russell Jr.

Magsayo, who comes from the Philippines, looked shaky at times in his last fight against slugger Julio Sega last August.

Ceja Magsayo dropped in fifth, but couldn’t keep it. At ten, Magsayo is back to stop Sega after he is flattened.

Magsayo’s strength and youthful energy make him a threat to Russell Jr., especially the way he looked today and this week. This is the wrong man to fight Russell Jr. if he’s rusty and dry.

Confident of victory

“A lot of people are good athletes. They do their best to get in good shape, and throw strong punches for as long as they can, but that’s real science for the sport,” said Russell Jr.

Gary Russell Jr., photo/photo by Mark Magcio Boxing

“The mind knows when to punch, know how to hit, know how to dump a guy’s shot, know how to choke, know how to kick, know how to relax.

“A lot of times, these guys are just good athletes and tend to overlook the thought part and that’s what I come in for. I’m a great athlete, but I also have intelligence on top of that. So it’s a double-edged sword on my end.”

“It means a lot. I put my city on my back, my supporters and fans on my back. Most importantly, my younger brother, who just passed away, and my not-so-healthy dad.”

“He is the only person who has ever laid his hands on me when it comes to the sport of boxing. So what you see today in terms of my skills is attributed to one man. My dad Gary Russell Sr. Again, I don’t want any of his hard work to go to waste.

“So I want to prove him right again and show him that the work, effort, time and energy he spent on me was not in vain. We will come out victorious on Saturday night,” Russell Jr. said.

Russell Jr’s hand speed and boxing skills should be enough for him to win this fight, but we’ll see if he can keep up with the fast pace offered by his younger opponent Magsayo.

Russell Jr wants to fight three times in 2022

“Gary Antoine Russell, Gary Antonio Russell,” Russell said when asked who has impressed him over the past two years, has been inactive. “I’m not going to lie to you. I love the sport of boxing, but I believe in fully developing myself first.

“So that’s my main focus. My younger siblings, I think I should be able to pass the rings on to them when my career is over. That’s what I’m looking forward to taking on the sport of boxing.

“It’s very realistic in my view,” said Russell Jr., when asked how realistic the three-time fight in 2022, as previously mentioned, would be his desire to do so.

“As long as we’re injury-free, I’m competing in the first month of the year, so we have a long time to come out. The question is, will we be able to get another dance partner? Are we going to be able to get these guys into the ring and really compete with me?”

“After this fight is over, I will be defending hard for another game in the middle of the summer and trying to finish the year strong as well,” said Russell Jr.

It’s hard to believe Russell Jr. will fight three times in 2022. At best, we might see him return to the ring for a second fight later in the year, but certainly not three times.

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