Longtime champion Mark Magcio defeated longtime champion Gary Russell Jr. by majority decision Saturday night to capture the WBC Featherweight World Championship at the SHOWTIME main event from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, NJ in a Premier Boxing Champions event that was action-packed from opener to broadcast.
“This is my dream come true,” Magsayo said. “Since I was a kid, this has been my dream. I am very proud to be a champion now. Many thanks to the Filipino fans for the support.”
One of Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao’s patrons, Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) was able to end the reign of the longest running world boxing champion by defeating Russell (31-2, 18 KO) via 12 tough rounds. Magsayo was able to use the advantage of his size to rely on Russell throughout the fight and benefited from an obvious injury to Russell’s right shoulder that became noticeable in the fourth round.
“I think I have a torn tendon in my right shoulder,” Russell said. “I haven’t competed in nearly two years. That’s what real champions do. I wanted to step into the ring and show my edge regardless of injury.
“I hurt my shoulder about two weeks ago,” Russell continued. “But I got into the fight because I’m a true champion and that’s what warriors do. I will fight no matter the situation. I refuse not to compete and show my skills to my fans and people who have come to show support and love. Please believe I will be back. I still want these fights.”
“I learned he got injured in the fourth round,” Magsayo said. “I took advantage of that because he only used one hand. This was my chance to follow up. My coach was telling me to use good combinations and follow up. He said this is your chance to become a champion and now I’m a champion.”
Russell seemed to hit the shoulder by throwing up his short right hand and immediately receded from the pain and backed out of the action. Russell managed to reset his game plan and succeeded in focusing only on the forms of his left hand. He slowed the action and fired a few clean shots to keep Magsayo away in a public ring show, but that wasn’t enough to win the judges.
Magsayo coach Freddie Roach managed 41% of his shots in the competition, a significant improvement from the 28% clip called by Russell’s previous eight opponents, according to CompuBox. Russell was limited to only 64 knockouts and went down from 150 to 69.
Magsayo continued to apply pressure in the subsequent rounds and managed to lead that activity to victory, including an attack that nearly brought down Russell late in the tenth round, impressing the Filipino fans in attendance.
At the end of the 12 rounds, Magsayo outpaced the decision on referee cards with a score of 114-114 that was overruled by two judges who saw the match 115-113 for Magsayo. After the fight, Russell indicated he thought he was still winning the fight, while Magsayo left open the possibility of a rematch.
“I believed in my skills and what he brought to the ring,” Russell said. “I felt like I was still winning the fight to be honest. Hell yeah I want a rematch. Does he want a rematch? That is the question.”
“It’s up to my promotion team,” Magsayo said when asked about a possible rematch. “But I am willing to fight anyone. I am the hero now!”
In the co-main event, lightweight contender Super Superior Mathias (18-1, 18 KOs) scored a TKO in the ninth round on Petros Ananyan (16-3-2, 7 KOs) after dropping Ananyan at the end of the round, prompting the referee to stop the fight based on On the proposal of the first row doctor in the ring between rounds.
The match was a rematch of the 2020 match which Ananyan won by decision. Matthias was able to avenge his only defeat in his career and set himself on the path towards a world title. The match was contested from the inside throughout, with Matthias targeting the body early and often, while Ananyan managed to chop off shots to the head.
“This is the fight I wanted,” said Matthias, who was elated at the victory after such a fast-paced affair. “Since my defeat against him, I wanted to avenge the loss. When you are sure of yourself and know you have the skills that you have, you take the rematch.”
Matthias managed 252-164 edge punches throughout the fight, including 59-12 edge in body punches. Ananyan was more active than Matias by a margin of 761-678 but Matias’ call rate of 37% outperformed Ananyan’s by 21%.
Mathias’ physical attack temporarily backfired in the seventh round, with referee Mary Glover snapping a point early in the round. Matthias continued to attack the body, and both fighters continued to have strong moments until the end of the fight.
In the closing seconds of the ninth round, Matthias struck the decisive blow via a left counter-hook that immediately hit Ananyan and sent him to the plate. Ananyan managed to get back on his feet and was saved by the ringing of the bell shortly after. However, between rounds, the ringside doctor considered Ananyan could no longer continue and the match was officially ruled a TKO after nine rounds.
“I’m not just a strong player but the way I fight is like cutting down a tree,” Matthias said. “Just keep hitting them. I think I can improve my strength but let’s see what happens over time. I want to thank everyone who made this fight possible, but I’ll take my time before I decide who I’ll fight next.”
In the televised opening match, strong rival Tugstsogt Nyambayar (12-2-1, 9 KOs) and one-time-defeated Sakarya Lucas (25-1-1, 17 KOs) competed in a lively draw after 10 rounds of super. Featherweight work. The fight was marked by a controversial ruling with a clear knockout blow to Lucas that would have awarded the late substitute the victory.
A back-and-forth affair saw Nyambayar attack first, connecting in the first round with a big piece on the left that caused Lucas to falter. Lucas managed to recover quickly, but was late in the early rounds as Nyambayar beat his opponent 67 to 46 across the first five frames.
Lukas began to return to the fight, landing with his right hand from a heavy blow, including his right arm which seemed to hurt Nyambayar in the eighth round. After his right hand, Lucas landed in a left counter placing Nyambayar on the canvas, but the knockout was a slip by referee Eddy Claudio.
“What I saw in real time, he fell not from the impact of the blow but from his body language, he just slipped. Claudio Post fight to front-row reporter Jim Gray said, “His feet went and he slipped.
The unmissed knockout call turned out to be the difference in the fight, with Lukas winning at least three of the last five rounds according to all three judges. Final numbers were 96-94 for Nyambayar, 96-94 for Lukas, and 95-95, resulting in a tie.
“I thought I won the fight and didn’t believe it was a knockout,” said Nyambayar. “It was a tough fight, especially against an opponent in a short time. My goal is to fight for the world title again.”
“Everyone saw it as a knockout that should have given me a split win,” said Lucas, who endured a 27-hour flight to the US for the match from his native Namibia. “I fought my heart and deserved to win. I accepted the fight in no time, but was ready to win. I think I won the fight, but I can’t do anything about the decision. We had the fans behind us, they know what happened.”
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING will be re-broadcast on Sunday, January 23 at 9 AM ET/PT on SHOWTIME and Monday, January 24 at 11 PM ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME®.
Veteran sports broadcaster Brian Custer hosted SHOWTIME’s telecast while Mauro Ranallo, the voice of versatile combat sports, performed hit after hit alongside Hall of Fame analyst Al Bernstein and three-division world champion Abner Maris. The Three Hall of Famers has wrapped up the SHOWTIME TV team – Emmy® Gray Award-winning reporter, unofficial target Steve Farhood and world-renowned broadcaster Jimmy Lennon Jr. The executive producer is four-time Emmy Award winner David Dinkins, Jr. Produced by Ray Smalltz III and directed by Chuck McCain. Former World Middleweight Champion Raúl “El Diamante” Marquez and sports broadcaster Alejandro Luna served as expert Spanish-language analysts for High School Audio Programming (SAP).