Earlier today Showtime announced their line up for shows for the coming few months. Whilst some of those events were already known about, and the quality of them is somewhat mixed, there is one that we need to talk about, and that's the July 9th card.
That particular show is one which will be headlined by WBC Featherweight champion Mark Magsayo (24-0, 16) making his first defense, as he defends the title against Mexican challenger Rey Vargas (35-0, 22).
For Magsayo the bout is a huge chance to build on his January win over Gary Russell Jr, a win that put him on the boxing map and saw him finally show what he could do at world level, whilst also ending the very long and frustrating reign of Russell Jr. For Vargas it's a great chance for him to become a 2-weight world champion, following a reign as the WBC Super Bantamweight champion earlier in his career.
Aside from the bout, we need to admit that some of the bouts lined up for the Showtime scheduled are great, with Stephen Fulton Jr Vs Danny Roman, Errol Spence Vs Yordenis Ugas, and Jermell Charlo Vs Brian Castano II being the best of the bunch. Sadly though it's hard not to feel like David Benavidez is wasting his time against David Lemieux and Jermall Charlo should be facing someone better than Maciej Sulecki, at this point in time, and the two unbeaten men in these bouts should be getting much bigger bouts than the ones in front of them,
Later today we'll see unbeaten Filipino Mark Magsayo (23-0, 16) face off with WBC Featherweight champion Gary Allen Russell Jr (31-1, 18), in a world title mandatory title fight. Unsurprisingly the bout is regarded as a mismatch with the bookies, who feel the once beaten champion should comfortably take home the victory and retain his title.
The champion goes into the bout best priced at 1/3 to take home the win, and continue his reign as the WBC champion, which began back in 2015. Magsayo is priced at 3/1 to score one of the first major upsets of the year, and to record a career defining win against a long term champion. As for the draw, that is best priced at 25/1.
Regarding the method of victory, Russell is 4/5 to win by Decision, including Technical Decision, and is 7/2 to win inside the distance. As for Magsayo, he is 11/2 to score a shock stoppage and a huge 13/2 to take home a Decision, which would be a massive surprise given the talent we all know Russell Jr has.
One of the most interesting markets here is the "Will the Fight go the Distance?" one. The odds on it going the scheduled 12 rounds is 4/7 and it's 6/4 to end inside 12 rounds.
For the grouped round break down, the bout is 10/1 to end in the first 3 rounds, 15/2 to end between rounds 4 and 6, 13/2 to ends between rounds 7 and 9 and 17/2 to end in the last 3 rounds.
Related - Unbeaten Magsayo gets shot at WBC king Russell Jr
Russell Jr and Magsayo make weight
Later today we'll see WBC Featherweight champion Gary Allen Russell Jr (31-1, 18) defending his title in a mandatory defense against unbeaten Filipino challenger Mark Magsayo (23-0, 16).
Yesterday, ahead of the bout, the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout.
On the scales both men made weight, with both fighters coming in at an official weight of 125.5lbs. However Russell Jr did struggle to make weight, coming in at 126.5lbs on his first attempt, before re-weighing. Given he came in comfortably under the limit on his second try it seems fair to say he didn't struggle to make weight, but instead misjudged the limit.
The bout, which will be the WBC world title fight of the year, is expected to be an easy one for the champion, however Magsayo has long shown promise, and will come in to this knowing this is his chance to prove the hype he had early in his career.
Interestingly it seemed Magsayo was the naturally bigger man at the weigh in, and it's also an interesting one in that this will be Russell Jr's first bout in almost 2 years, and his first since requiring surgery on his leg. The champion is an undeniable talent, but for all his talent, he has wasted it in, and it hasn't had the activity and opponents to climb into the pound-for-pound list, something he probably should have done during his career.
For fans wanting to watch this bout it will be shown on Showtime.
Related - Unbeaten Magsayo gets shot at WBC king Russell Jr (Preview)
Our last award for 2021 is the Turnaround of the Year award, awarded for the bout that saw a fighter grab victory from the jaws of defeat. This award was an easy one to hand out this year, as it was won by future world title challenger Mark Magsayo, for his remarkable turn around victory over Julio Ceja in August, in a criminally over-looked and forgotten fight.
On paper this was a mismatch in favour of the unbeaten Magsayo who was very, very clearly the favourite with the bookies. It was supposed to be little more than a show case for Magsayo against against someone who was 4 years removed from his last win, and had gone 2-3-1 in the previous 5 years. Ceja. Once a world class Bantamweight, was thought to be done as a fighter. Whilst he had pushed Brandon Figueroa to a draw in 2019 that was mostly put down to Ceja coming in well over the Super Bantamweight limit, and essentially using his extra weight to withstand the Figueroa assault.
The idea of the bout being a mismatch looked even more true in the first round, when Magsayo dropped the Mexican in the first round. Surprisingly however Ceja quickly got a read on Magsayo after that early knockdown and fought back hard, landing huge body shots, taking the wind from Magsayo and then dropping Magsayo in round 5. Magsayo wasn't just dropped but was really hurt and left bloodied. We've seen fighters stopped looking like Magsayo did at the end of round 5.
To his credit Magsayo regained his composure, but continue to be put under pressure through the middle of the fight, and seemed well down as we headed into round 10. But the the turnaround occurred with Magsayo landing a huge right hand that left Ceja out cold, and then followed up with another, sending Ceja to the canvas in one of the most eye catching KO's of the year, and securing him a shot at WBC world champion Gary Russell Jr in 2022.
At the time of the stoppage Magsayo was down on all 3 cards, with Ceja leading 86-63, twice, and 87-82. Had he won the final 3 rounds, without dropping Ceja, he could have earned a majority draw. Thankfully for him the finish covered over a lot of the issues with the performance, but in reality we dare say it showed he wasn't yet ready for a world title shot, especially not against someone with the skills of Russell Jr.
WBC mandatory title situation
Yesterday the WBC posted a tweet laying down some of their upcoming Mandatory title fights, and there was two bouts that caught our eye due to the involvement of Asian fighters.
One of those bouts is a Featherweight bout between current WBC world champion Gary Allen Russell Jr (31-1, 18) and unbeaten Filipino Mark Magsayo (23-0, 16), who will be coming in to this out on the back of his tremendous come from behind win over Julio Ceja back in August. For Russell Jr the bout will serve as a continuation of the running joke that he fights once a year, something he's done since winning the title in 2015 against Jhonny Gonzalez.
On paper this should be an easy win for Russell Jr, who has the edge in skills, speed and resume, but he has really been an horrifically disappointing champion, and he hasn't fought since February 2020. His reign will not go down as anything special, despite the fact he's held the title for more than 6 years now!
The other is an all Filipino affair at Bantamweight, as Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27) has been ordered to defend his WBC world title against Interim champion Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20). Whilst on paper this one does look interesting, and could be seen as a potential passing of the torch fight for Filipino boxing, it's also a massive let down given the talk of Donaire fighting in unification bouts against either John Riel Casimero and Naoya Inoue. In fact if anything this feels like a hugely poor decision from the WBC, even if it is technically the "right" decision.
Donaire had been linked to Inoue and Casimero since winning the WBC title with an upset win, albeit a minor upset win, over the then unbeaten Nordine Oubaali back in May. Gaballo on the other hand won the WBC "interim" title in late 2020 when he took a controversial win over Emmanuel Rodriguez, in a bout that actually saw Gaballo step in for Donaire on short notice. Technically the two men should face off, but it still feels like the bout isn't one that many fans one, and one that will likely be seen an easy win for Donaire, given his power, and the fact he is proven at world level, something Gaballo certainly isn't.
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