Who is next in line for newly crowned World Boxing Council featherweight champion Mark Magsayo?
If the hierarchy of WBC contenders is to be followed, Magsayo could be facing a highly dangerous challenger in Mexican Rey Vargas, also an undefeated boxer, who had a lengthy reign as WBC super-bantamweight champion.
Vargas, who towers above his opponents as a 5’11” boxer, was actually the no. 1 contender to previous WBC champion Gary Russell, Jr., from whom Magsayo, the no. 2 challenger, snatched the title away from.
But the Filipino camp won the mandatory right to fight Russell, with Magsayo fulfilling his destiny by claiming the WBC featherweight crown with a majority decision win at the Borgata Event Center on Sunday (PH time) at the Atlantic City in New Jersey.
Vargas is described as a “well-schooled fighter” as he was under Hall-of-Fame trainer Nacho Beristain.
Vargas held the 122-pound division from 2017 to 2020 as he successfully defended his title against the likes of Ronny Rios, Oscar Negrete, and Azat Hovhannisyan. He last defended the crown in July 2019 against Tomoki Kameda. He was named champion in recess due to a broken leg, leaving Luis Nery to face Aaron Alameda for the vacant belt.
He came back to the ring in November last year as a featherweight for the first time and, using his significant height and reach advantage, won decisively over compatriot Leonardo Baez.
Vargas, who now has a clean 35-win record, 22 by knockout, was hoping to challenge Russell for the title but Magsayo’s camp was able to acquire the mandatory rights.
Magsayo said he is open for a rematch with Russell, but it will depend on his promoters.
Russell vowed that he will bounce back from the loss that was deemed close despite the American nursing a hurt shoulder, forcing him to use only his left hand for the most part of the fight.
He, however, did not specify if he will continue to fight in the division although he already signified his intention to move up to a higher weight division.
But Russell’s injury, however, may take time to heal, so the first defense for the Filipino could be against a different opponent.
“I’m ready to face anybody. I’m the champion now,” Magsayo said after the win that improved his record to 24-0 (18 KO).
In all probability, Vargas could be next for Magsayo.
It would be an interesting showdown between two undefeated boxers that will put the Mexico-Philippines boxing rivalry again in the spotlight.