July is usually a thin month for top-tier prizefights, and this one is no different. That doesn't mean, though, that there aren't some gems-on-paper for your viewing pleasure. On Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, unbeatens collide in a featherweight battle. Mark Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) ups his profile that much more, in his native Phillippines and the world over if he downs Mexican vet Rey Vargas (35-0, 22KOs) in thrilling fashion.
WBC Featherweight world champion “Magnifico” Mark Magsayo and Vargas traded verbal jabs at Thursday’s final press conference Thursday as they look to their PBC/Showtime main event.
Brandon Figueroa battles Carlos Castro in a WBC Featherweight Title Eliminator in the chief support bout, plus unbeaten lightweight Frank Martin and Jackson Mariñez are booked for a 10-round tussle. Showtime kicks off coverage at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Fans of action will be hoping that Vargas took the bait when Mark Magsayo referenced the Mexican's tendency to use his feet more than his hands: “I hope Rey Vargas doesn’t run too much, so we can give a good fight to the people,” said the 27 year old Filipino, who downed 31-1 Gary Russell Jr in his last outing.
“I’m not worried about Vargas. I’ve already beat the best in the division, so my confidence is very high heading into this fight.” He meant Russell; they faced off on Jan. 22, with Magsayo enjoying a majority decision in Atlantic City.”
Mark Magsayo sounded pleased to be in Texas. Makes sense, for this is where he had an epiphany. “This is very special for me. I watched Manny Pacquiao fight Marco Antonio Barrera in San Antonio at the Alamodome (11-15-03) and that was the day that I decided to start training in the gym,” he said. “I’m so thankful to have this fight – which is a dream come true– happen here in San Antonio.
Another link to Pacman, age 43, who by the way will be coming back to the ring for an exhibition bout in December against a non-pro… “I’ve worked on a lot of different things with Freddie Roach to make sure that we’re ready for anything Vargas brings,” said the hitter who debuted back in 2013, as a featherweight. “If he wants to come toe-to-toe like he said, then I’m ready to end this fight with a knockout.
He sounded confident, not cocky, that he'll get past the 31 year old Vargas, the WBC super bantam champ in 2017-2020. “I guarantee that this is going to be a big night for me. We’re ready to show who the best in the division is.” It's up for grabs; the WBA has Leon Santa Cruz their super and Leigh Wood the regular champ. RING likes WBO champ Emanuel Navarrete as the No. 1 ranked 126, and has Magsayo at No. 2, while Mauricio Lara holds the No. 3 slot and Josh Warrington, IBF titlist, is No. 4.
Yes, Mark Magsayo is sandwiched by Mexicans in the RING ratings and collides with another toughie Saturday. “He’s never fought a guy like me,” he said at the presser, unruffled, “You’re going to see that on Saturday night.”
Vargas did indeed take the bait, in that he responded to the jab that he's a runner: “If you want to exchange blows, I’m more than happy to do that…He’s taking me seriously, but I think it’s an advantage for me, because I feel like he’s worried…Freddie is a great trainer and I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the ring against him before. In the end, it's going to be just Mark Magsayo and I inside the ring. We’re ready to put on a show.”
Is he fronting when he talks about wanting to do damage to Mark Magsayo? “I know that someone like Freddie Roach will think they know what our strategy will be,” said the 5-10 1/2 Mexican, who'll tower a bit over the 5-6 challenger. “I have an ace up my sleeve, and when that happens, I’m tearing his head off. His confidence may be in the clouds, but the fall is going to hurt.”
Vargas continued: “I showcased my fighting skill in November coming off a long layoff,” he said, of his UD10 win over 21-4 Leonardo Baez on the Canelo Alvarez-Caleb Plant card. “There was no ring rust then and there will be no ring rust now. Mark Magsayo says that I haven’t faced anyone like him before, but in reality, he has actually never faced anyone like me.
Vargas sounded like a man on a mission he knew would succeed, when he said, “Mark Magsayo may want to exchange blows so badly because that may be the only thing he knows how to do. He doesn’t know how to fight otherwise. We will dominate him and take the belt. The higher the confidence is of my opponent, the harder the fall is.”