By: Sean Crose
Mark Magasayo can hit. Hard. Just ask Julio Ceja. Back in August of last year the rugged fighter met the rising Filipino star on the Manny Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugas undercard in Las Vegas. Although Ugas’ upset win over the legendary PacMan will be what’s most remembered from the night, a straight right from Magasayo should stick in the cranium of all who saw it land on poor Ceja’s face in the 10th round of their respective match, as well. With his man on the ropes, Magasayo fired off a textbook overhand missile that caught Ceja flush. A few seconds later poor Ceja could be seen laying on his back, eyes closed, consciousness momentarily gone.
That’s the kind of moment fight fans take note of. A
masterful display of ring generalship is impressive, but a fight ending
howitzer, devastating and well placed, has a powerful way of bringing attention
to itself – and especially the fighter who delivers it. And so, on the eve of
his WBC featherweight title defense this Saturday against Rey Vargas, the 24-0
Magasayo finds himself once more being the center of attention. Not that the
35-0 Vargas isn’t worthy of attention himself.
He’s tall, Vargas, about four inches taller than Magasayo. He
also knows how to use his height effectively. It’s the classic scenario where a
shorter, more aggressive fighter will try to get in on a taller man. Vargas has
a lot of fights on his resume, too, which means he’s bringing a ton of
experience into the ring against the defending champion. Magasayo has some
strong experiences himself, though, including having bested the extremely slick
Gary Russell Jr back in January. In other words, the man is familiar with
different styles, something that may prove invaluable come Saturday night when
he squares off against Vargas at San Antonio’s Alamodome.
As if fighting a fellow undefeated opponent in a main event
to be aired live on Showtime wasn’t enough, Magasayo also has to contend with
the fact that he’s inevitably going to be compared to fellow Filipino Manny Pacquiao
wherever he goes. Indeed, the 27 year old is being seen as the heir to the now
retired Pacquiao’s claim of the Philippine’s top boxer. Magasayo, of course, is
handling such expectations gracefully, but that’s a lot of extra baggage for
the man to have to carry around – especially heading into a title fight with
someone as formidable as Vargas.