THE featherweight division churns out one other attractive matchup this weekend when world quantity three, Mark Magsayo, takes on the fifth-ranked Brandon Figueroa at Ontario’s Toyota Arena in California on Saturday evening (March 4).
Both 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. Before 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 group with Marvin Somodio taking Freddie Roach’s place as head coach. Somodio, as soon as a star of the Philippine beginner boxing group, had been working beneath Roach since he stop preventing after a quick skilled profession in 2011. His transfer to develop his personal health club and steady was embraced by Magsayo who leaves Roach on good phrases, citing communication as the primary cause behind the transfer; each Magsayo and Somodio converse the Filipino language of Bisaya.
“I can understand more when coach Marvin explains to me the instructions I need,” mentioned Magsayo, initially from Tagbilaran City in Bohol, Philippines. “I feel I have more chemistry with him as we have the same culture, come from the same region too where we grew up with the same dialect.”
Figueroa is the two/7 favorite. Though 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 total. A stress fighter with severe pop in each palms, the 23-1-1 (18) Texan can also 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 skin, Figueroa is a grasp of reducing down distance and letting his palms fly up shut.
“I know exactly what I’m doing when I fight inside the pocket,” mentioned the 26-year-old. “When I’m inside, I’m really comfortable and I know how to work. I can let my body shots off from there. We’ve worked on a lot of things though, because I 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 tricky examination means that Magsayo – in camp since October – goes to search out it tough to duplicate the Philadelphian’s success. And it could possibly be argued that shedding a good one to Fulton stays an admirable effort in a manner that Magsayo’s defeat to Vargas was not. Though 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 learned from my last fight that I needed to adjust for a fighter with a reach advantage like Rey Vargas,” Magsayo countered. “I really thought I won the fight, but I respect the judges. I’m coming to use my power and damage and hit Figueroa hard.”
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. Worth noting that Ceja – like Fulton – discovered Figueroa to be a keen goal and one who can battle to vary his strategy if his demonic free-swinging type isn’t working. With that in thoughts, Magsayo has extra than simply an out of doors probability of victory and could be very a lot a reside ‘canine.
But the wise cash will doubtless be positioned on Figueroa, significantly if these playing witnessed his 2021 destruction of the beforehand undefeated Luis Nery. Figueroa once more had issues that evening however as soon as he’d improved his intention, Nery merely couldn’t cope. In the top, essentially the most spiteful of physique punches put Nery down and out in spherical seven. To win, due to this fact, Magsayo will should be switched on from the primary bell to the final.
Yet the eye of Magsayo, priced at 3/1, has been recognized to wander. Whether that may solely be blamed on communication points with Roach stays to be seen however what Figueroa does so effectively is pressure his opponents to struggle again and, within the course of, invite errors. Magsayo, we really feel, simply makes too a lot of them for him to not get punished. Though 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 looks 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. But he’s certainly 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 turn into a key participant within the featherweight ranks.