After a brief break, World Boxing Council featherweight champion Mark Magsayo leaves the country Wednesday and starts preparation for his first title defense against Rey Vargas of Mexico.
Magsayo is heading back to Los Angeles to set up training camp at the famed Wild Card gym in Los Angeles under trainer Freddie Roach for the penciled July 9 fight in San Antonio, Texas.
The 26-year-old pride of Tagbilaran City quietly returned to the country last March 3 after being away for almost two years and fighting in the US, the last of which had him wresting the WBC 126-lbs title belt against former champion Gary Russell last January.
“April start na ng training sa Wild Card gym kay Freddie Roach,” said Magsayo on Tuesday, appearing in the virtual Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
“Pero habang nasa bakasyon ako nagte-training na rin ako. Hindi pa rin ako nagpapabaya sa sarili ko kahit nasa bakasyon ako.”
The 31-year-old challenger, undefeated like Magsayo, was supposed to face Russell in a title match, but suffered a broken leg that paved the way for the Filipino to replace him and vie for the WBC belt.
MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons, who was with Magsayo in the weekly session presented by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Amelie Hotel Manila, Uniliver, and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation said they knew Vargas was next in line the moment ‘Magnifico’ pulled off the majority decision win over Russell.
“It was already pre-determined even before Mark fought (Russell). And that would be Rey Vargas which is fine with us.
You know when you’re the champ, whoever they offer you, whoever they put in front of you, that’s who you would have to fight when it’s a mandatory,” said Gibbons, who also returns to the country for the first time in two years.
Vargas is a former WBC super-bantamweight champion who defended his title five times and holds an undefeated record of 35-0 with 22 KOs.
But Magsayo is unperturbed, saying Vargas is a great fighter and a great match up for him.
“Macha-challenge na naman ako. Exciting itong laban na ito, interesting fight kasi magaling, walang talo, undefeated siya, matangkad. Meron siyang bentahe na wala ako, pero may bentahe ako na wala siya. So maayos ‘yan, magandang laban,” said the champion.
Before leaving the country, Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) paid a courtesy call to his main benefactor, boxing great and Senator Manny Pacquiao, and got more than just an audience with the retired eighth-time world champion.
“Sinabi sa akin ni Senator na pag matangkad ang kalaban, head movement talaga and dapat maganda ‘yung counter,” he recalled of his meeting with the legendary Filipino boxer last Sunday. “Tapos ‘yung training ko raw, kailangan kong doblehin pa raw kasi ako na ‘yung defending champion. At tsaka tiwala sa trainer, tiwala sa Panginoon, ‘yun talaga ang sinabi niya sa akin.”