THE featherweight division churns out one other engaging matchup this weekend when world quantity three, Mark Magsayo, takes on the fifth-ranked Brandon Figueroa at Ontario’s Toyota Area in California on Saturday night time (March 4).
Each combatants have some skeletons of their closet. For Magsayo, 24-1 (16), he’s seeking to bounce again from a July defeat to Rey Vargas whereas that is Figueroa’s second outing since he was outpointed by Stephen Fulton, down at super-bantamweight, in November 2021. Like these bouts, this one is over the 12-round distance. For what it’s price, the WBC interim bauble is at stake.
Magsayo’s loss to Vargas got here after proving himself among the many leaders with a January 2022 win over Gary Russell Jnr. Earlier than that, the US-based Filipino knocked out Julio Ceja in 10 wild rounds. In all three contests, Magsayo showcased each his promise and limitations on the highest degree.
The loss to Vargas persuaded the 27-year-old Magsayo to make some tweaks to his coaching staff with Marvin Somodio taking Freddie Roach’s place as head coach. Somodio, as soon as a star of the Philippine novice boxing staff, had been working beneath Roach since he stop preventing after a quick skilled profession in 2011. His transfer to develop his personal gymnasium and steady was embraced by Magsayo who leaves Roach on good phrases, citing communication as the principle purpose behind the transfer; each Magsayo and Somodio communicate the Filipino language of Bisaya.
“I can perceive extra when coach Marvin explains to me the directions I would like,” stated Magsayo, initially from Tagbilaran Metropolis in Bohol, Philippines. “I really feel I’ve extra chemistry with him as we’ve got the identical tradition, come from the identical area too the place we grew up with the identical dialect.”
Figueroa is the two/7 favorite. Although comparatively new to the featherweight division – he stopped the first rate Carlos Castro in six rounds in July in his solely earlier encounter within the weight class – he’s combined with higher firm general. A stress fighter with severe pop in each palms, the 23-1-1 (18) Texan can be taller by two inches (at 5ft 8ins) and his arms are longer by greater than 4 (his attain is 72.5ins in comparison with Magsayo’s 68). Technically sound from the surface, Figueroa is a grasp of chopping down distance and letting his palms fly up shut.
“I do know precisely what I’m doing once I struggle contained in the pocket,” stated the 26-year-old. “Once I’m inside, I’m actually snug and I understand how to work. I can let my physique photographs off from there. We’ve labored on a whole lot of issues although, as a result of I do know Magsayo is a heavy hitter like me.”
It was a tactic that fell narrowly quick in opposition to the sensible Fulton, however that he gave him such a troublesome examination means that Magsayo – in camp since October – goes to search out it troublesome to duplicate the Philadelphian’s success. And it might be argued that dropping a decent one to Fulton stays an admirable effort in a means that Magsayo’s defeat to Vargas was not. Although the Filipino had his moments in opposition to Vargas, he struggled with the attain and trade of the Mexican who, although strong sufficient, at all times has the look of a beatable boxer.
“I realized from my final struggle that I wanted to regulate for a fighter with a attain benefit like Rey Vargas,” Magsayo countered. “I actually thought I received the struggle, however I respect the judges. I’m coming to make use of my energy and harm and hit Figueroa onerous.”
Magsayo can field cleverly and bang with authority. That aforementioned win over Ceja, the place Magsayo rallied to attain the KO in spherical 10 after falling behind on the playing cards, is testomony to his energy. When Figueroa met Ceja in 2019, he was lucky to get a share of the spoils after 12 gruelling rounds. Price noting that Ceja – like Fulton – discovered Figueroa to be a keen goal and one who can battle to alter his strategy if his demonic free-swinging type isn’t working. With that in thoughts, Magsayo has extra than simply an out of doors likelihood of victory and may be very a lot a stay ‘canine.
However the wise cash will possible be positioned on Figueroa, significantly if these playing witnessed his 2021 destruction of the beforehand undefeated Luis Nery. Figueroa once more had issues that night time however as soon as he’d improved his intention, Nery merely couldn’t cope. Ultimately, probably the most spiteful of physique punches put Nery down and out in spherical seven. To win, due to this fact, Magsayo will must be switched on from the primary bell to the final.
But the eye of Magsayo, priced at 3/1, has been recognized to wander. Whether or not that may solely be blamed on communication points with Roach stays to be seen however what Figueroa does so properly is pressure his opponents to struggle again and, within the course of, invite errors. Magsayo, we really feel, simply makes too lots of them for him to not get punished. Although we shouldn’t rule out Magsayo placing on one thing of a clinic, the sensation is that he’ll find yourself being rescued within the second half of the competition.
On the undercard, former super-welterweight belt-holder Jarrett Hurd, 24-2 (16), will probably be hoping to regain some lengthy misplaced momentum in opposition to Mexico’s Jose Armando Resendiz, 13-1 (9) in a middleweight 10-rounder.
Hurd hasn’t fought since he was outpointed over the identical distance by fringe contender Luis Arias in June 2021. That reverse got here two years after an upset loss to Julian Williams; it seems like an awfully very long time in the past that Hurd was beating high quality males like Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and Tony Harrison. Now 32, one wonders if we’ll ever see him once more. However he’s absolutely too good for Resendiz, who has not fought anybody of be aware.
In the identical division, promising Uruguayan prospect, Amilcar Vidal, 16-0 (12), will get a welcome check within the form of 19-year-old Elijah Lorenzo Garcia, 13-0 (11) of Phoenix, Arizona.
THE VERDICT: The winner of Figueroa-Magsayo will change into a key participant within the featherweight ranks.