Wednesday, March 29, 2023  |


Mark Magsayo is staying active after layoff, wants title shot after two more fights

Photo from Team Magsayo
Fighters Network

About twelve hours after the final bell rang, Mark Magsayo and Panya Uthok had completed the transition from ring rivals to road buddies, getting ahead of weekend traffic en route to Panglao beach in Magsayo’s home province of Bohol, Philippines.

Magsayo and the two time WBO bantamweight titleholder from Thailand had gone the distance, with Magsayo winning a wide unanimous decision, but any hostilities the two had harbored were long gone by the time they made a pit stop to buy fruit shakes – Magsayo ordered a mango while Uthok’s team opted for watermelon.

Panglao is the sort of destination anyone proud of their home would show to their visitors, but it was also a welcome respite after a hard three month training camp meant to sharpen his tools and build his stamina.

Unlike Magsayo’s last step up – a life and death struggle with Chris Avalos in 2016 – Magsayo opted to keep the drama to a minimum, boxing behind his jab and using his legs. The result was that Magsayo had no swelling or cuts to worry about as he hit the waves.

“This latest fight is better because I was really wild in the fight in Singapore,” said Magsayo (20-0, 14 knockouts), referring to his fourth round knockout of Indonesian Erick Deztroyer in April.

“He’s a tough fighter, very strong, so I wasn’t taking any chances because he’s a strong puncher.

“We didn’t plan to knock him out, we planned to go twelve rounds.”

Magsayo, 24, had missed 17 months following his last fight in Tagbilaran City in 2017 as he attempted to extricate himself from a deal with ALA Promotions. Now with two wins in the past four months, Magsayo’s plan, along with manager Vikram Swapragasam, is to fight again in October or November – possibly in Manila. 

Now rated no. 10 by the WBC, Magsayo says the plan is to fight another fight or two, then travel to the United States for a world title shot. The WBC title is currently held by Gary Russell (30-1, 18 knockouts), who has made four title defenses since winning it in 2015. The WBA belt is held by Leo Santa Cruz and the IBF title is held by the United Kingdom’s Josh Warrington, while the WBO title is vacant and will be filled by the winner between Shakur Stevenson and Joet Gonzalez.

“Anybody,” said Magsayo of his preference. “As long as it’s a world title fight.”

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected]