Heading into tonight’s Showtime card, which was live from Atlantic City, there were plenty of unknowns when talking about the main event. Gary Russell Jr. (31-1) hadn’t fought in two years, and Mark Magsayo (23-0) was an unproven contender.
Even so, no one could have predicted an in-fight injury that would put Gary Russell Jr. to a disadvantage, but it happened. Mark Magsayo did just enough to pull out a majority decision victory as the judges saw this one 114-114, 115-113, and 115-113, which earned him the WBC Featherweight crown.
In round one, Mark Magsayo brought the pressure, which certainly got the attention of Gary Russell Jr. A right uppercut landed that staggered Russell Jr. along with an overhand right by Magasayo, which landed flush. Russell Jr. seemed to be analyzing his opponent and was trying to create traps with feints.
Once round two began, Gary Russell Jr. started to warm up. The head movement became more frequent, and he began to faint more to catch Magsayo. It seemed like the young Magsayo felt very comfortable during the round and was landing some big shots against the smaller Russell Jr.
Gary Russell Jr. started to get going in round three with his right jab and very quick left hook. His defense was sharp, and it seemed like he was beginning to see Magsayo’s punches coming. But then came round four, and that’s when this fight took a turn for the worst. Russell Jr. screamed in pain as he injured his right shoulder when he threw a jab and landed. Magsayo saw this and started to put pressure on Russell Jr. until the end of the round.
Rounds five through twelve were almost identical. Mark Magsayo applied pressure with very little offense, and Gary Russel Jr. was defensive and fighting with one arm. Russell Jr. tried his best to create offense and counter the young Magsayo, but it just wasn’t enough. He couldn’t throw any combinations and was forced just to try and land one shot at a time for the rest of the night.
After the fight, the new WBC Featherweight Champion had this to say “This is my dream. My dream just came true. Ever since I was a kid, this was my dream. I’m so proud that I’m a champion now. Thank you so much to the Filipino fans for the support.”
Magsayo continued, “Yes, I know that I hurt him in the third round. I hit him with a good shot, so that’s why he got hurt. I took advantage of it because he was only using one hand. This was my opportunity to follow through. My coach was telling me to use good combinations and follow through. He said this is your chance to become a champion, and now I am a champion!”
Subriel Matias earns ninth-round TKO in a thriller.
Subriel Matías (17-1) and Petros Ananyan (16-2-2) tore down the house tonight. The first round was more of a jab fest between the two fighters. The second round is where the war began. These two pugilists were going at it “phone booth” close all night long. Rounds two through six showed Matias displaying incredible stamina and landing at will with combinations on the inside. He saw success when Ananyan pushed off Matias and created a mid-range space. Also, Matias would run into trouble when Ananyan would have him against the ropes. There were some low blows with all of the leather flying, and in the seventh round, Matias was deducted a point. Round seven is an automatic round of the year candidate as both men had no quit.
Towards the end of round nine, after being close, Matias landed a huge left hook that knocked down Ananyan. Although he beat the count, the round was over, and Ananyan sat on his stool. Dr. Nina Ratcliff went to Ananyan’s corner and conducted a vision test. After showing no response, she recommended that the referee (Mary Glover) stop the fight. The referee then stopped it, which resulted in a TKO victory for Subriel Matias.
Matias had this to say after the fight “I’m not just a hard-hitter but the way that I fight is like cutting down a tree. Just keep hitting them. I think I can improve my power but let’s see what happens with time. I’m going to take my time. I want to thank everybody who made this fight possible but I’m going to take my time before deciding who I will fight next.”
Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Sakaria Lukas fight to a split draw.
The opening card on this Showtime tripleheader featured Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar (12-2) going up against Sakaria Lukas (25-1), who was a last-minute replacement. The fight started with plenty of back and forth in the first round. “King Tug” landed a hard left hook which staggered Lukas and nearly knocked him down. Rounds two through four, Nyambayar controlled the fight with double left hooks and some hard uppercuts. Nyambayar nearly knocked down Lukas in the fifth round once again with a crushing right uppercut.
A funny thing happened in round six as Nyambayar just stopped being active. He took rounds six through ten off and was knocked down in the eighth, which was erroneously scored a slip. This one went to the scorecards, and the judges had it 96-94 (Lukas), 96-94 (Nyambayar), and 95-95 for a split draw.
My Three Cents:
It wasn’t the most thrilling fight, but Mark Magsayo learned a lot in the ring tonight, and that will only help him further develop as a fighter. As far as Gary Russell Jr., that injured shoulder will probably require surgery and force him to be on the shelf for a while.
So what is next for the new WBC Champion? I would be interested in seeing this fight again once Russell Jr. is healthy, but, in the meantime, Mark Masayo versus a Brandon Figueroa or Stephen Fulton Jr. would undoubtedly wet the appetite of fight fans.