Jessie Magdaleno returns from year off, turns attention to featherweight division
After nearly a year away from the ring, Jessie Magdaleno returns this Saturday with the goal of showing fans that he still has plenty to show as a fighter.
He’ll begin the road back at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, California against Rico Ramos, also a former world titleholder, on the card headlined by the Kubrat Pulev vs. Bogdan Dinu heavyweight fight on ESPN (10 p.m. ET).
“I took a year off, got myself ready mentally and physically, and on Saturday we’re gonna show what the world’s been missing,” said Magdaleno (25-1, 18 knockouts).
What’s Magdaleno been up to since that night, April 28 in Philadelphia, when he was knocked out in round 11 by Isaac Dogboe, losing his WBO junior featherweight title in the process?
“Just training and telling myself that that loss wasn’t gonna define me. I have more to do than what I did in my last fight. I told myself that all the great champions lose and they always come back two, three times harder,” said Magdaleno.
“This is how I felt when I got ready for the world title fight with (Nonito) Donaire.”
Magdaleno chalks the loss, his first, to a variety of factors, including weight, saying he was “killing myself” to make the 122-pound limit. “My body suffered from it, and that’s what made me lose,” said Magdaleno. But he also points to his lack of strategy, which saw him abandon his boxing and counterpunching in favor of a slugfest with the Ghanaian.
“I just lost myself a little bit, I became a brawler, even though I am a brawler I’m more of a mover, more of a counterpuncher. I have many more tricks under my sleeve than just to sit there and brawl,” said Magdaleno.
To address the first, he’s moved up in weight to 126 pounds. He’s also switched trainers from Manny Robles back to Jorge Capetillo, whom he had worked with for a time in 2014-15.
“I came back home and I was in LA for quite a while and it was time to come back home and train here and be closer with the family and my son and my wife. I have everything here so why do I need to go out of state? I needed to get back to the basics and what better way to do that than with Jorge Capetillo,” said Magdaleno.
Against Ramos (30-5, 14 KOs), Magdaleno faces a fighter who is four years older at 31, and who has strung together six straight wins against lesser opponents over the past three years.
Ramos won the WBA junior featherweight title in 2011 with a come-from-behind knockout of Akifumi Shimoda on a single left hook, but lost his title in his next fight against Guillermo Rigondeaux, and since then had lost mostly when he’s stepped back up.
“I take nothing from Rico, he’s a tremendous fighter, he’s a counter puncher and he’s done his part in the boxing but I think it’s time that I get in there. I’m still young and I have many years to go,” said Magdaleno.
Where does he go from here in the featherweight division? There’s IBF titleholder Josh Warrington in the U.K. who is signed by Frank Warren, and both WBA claimant Leo Santa Cruz and WBC belt holder Gary Russell Jr. are with PBC. The easiest path to a title shot would seem to be against WBO titleholder Oscar Valdez, another former Robles pupil who is also signed with Top Rank.
“All of them,” Magdaleno said when asked which he’d like to fight. “They’re all champions for a reason and I want to fight the best. I get this fight out of the way hopefully and we’ll see what’s next. I’m hoping by the end of this year Top Rank gives me another shot at a title.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and can be reached at [email protected].