Mark Magsayo: There’s Gonna Be A Knockout If Rey Vargas Is Not Gonna Run Too Much

Boxing Scene

Mark Magsayo hopes he is wrong, but the unbeaten WBC featherweight champion expects that he’ll have to chase after Rey Vargas during their 12-round title fight Saturday night.

Vargas’ history suggests that he won’t engage with a puncher like Magsayo, who will make the first defense of the 126-pound championship he won from Gary Russell Jr. five months ago. The taller, rangier Vargas regularly boxes off his back foot, which will present a challenge for the heavy-handed Magsayo in the main event of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader at Alamodome in San Antonio.

“He always goes backward all fight,” Magsayo told “I hope this coming fight he’s not gonna run too much. There’s gonna be a knockout if he’s not gonna run too much.”

The Philippines’ Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) feels his majority-decision victory over Russell (31-2, 18 KOs) helped prepare him for how to handle Vargas, who, unlike Russell, is a right-handed boxer. Russell took a very defensive approach to his fight with Magsayo, particularly after Russell aggravated a pre-existing injury to his right shoulder early in the fourth round of their 12-round bout January 22 at Borgata Event Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Russell, a southpaw from Capitol Heights, Maryland, defended himself well during the final eight-plus rounds of their bout, even while essentially boxing with one arm. Magsayo still won on two scorecards (115-113, 115-113, 114-114) to upset an opponent who entered the ring as boxing’s longest-reigning champion.

“To win this fight, I’ll have to use my footwork,” Magsayo said. “It’s hard to catch him. The guy is tall and he’s gonna run, so I need to make adjustments, just like the Gary Russell fight. He was too small and he was gonna run, so it’s hard to hit them when they run.”

Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs) outboxed fellow Mexican Leonardo Baez (21-5, 12 KOs) and handily won a 10-round unanimous decision in his featherweight debut November 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The former WBC super bantamweight champion is the WBC’s mandatory challenger for the title Magsayo won from Russell.

“I saw his training, his sparring,” Magsayo said. “He’s always [going] backward, backward, staying away from his opponent. In the gym, we’ve trained for different styles – slugger, a brawler fighter and a [boxer]. Whatever his style is in this fight, we’re ready.”

Magsayo-Russell will headline a three-bout broadcast scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

The telecast will begin with a 10-round bout between Frank Martin (15-0, 11 KOs), a lightweight contender from Indianapolis, and Jackson Marinez (19-2, 7 KOs). Former WBC super bantamweight champ Brandon Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, and Phoenix’s Carlos Castro (27-1, 12 KOs) are set to square off in the 12-round co-feature, a WBC featherweight elimination match.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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