Thursday, June 08, 2023  |


Raymond Ford wants to make his case for a title shot, beginning with Jessie Magdaleno

Raymond Ford lands a jab on Eric Manriquez during their bout on the Matchroom boxing fight card on August 15, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom
Fighters Network

Raymond Ford knows that his bout this Friday against former titleholder Jessie Magdaleno will be his biggest step-up in class as a professional. He also believes he will be the most significant fight for Magdaleno in several years.

The two will meet in a twelve-round featherweight bout this Saturday, April 8 at the Boeing Center at Tech Port in San Antonio, Tex. on a card which will be broadcast by DAZN. The fight will be the first scheduled twelve-rounder for Ford, and will also be the first twelve-rounder for Magdaleno in five outings, since he lost the WBO junior featherweight title in eleven rounds against Isaac Dogboe in 2018.

“I’m expecting the best Jessie Magdaleno. It’s been years since he’s been in a big fight, this is his biggest fight since the Dogboe fight. I feel he’s going to come prepared and try to get back on top,” said Ford (13-0-1, 7 knockouts) of Camden, N.J.

A win over the fellow southpaw would make the 2018 National Golden Gloves champion a bona fide contender at 126 pounds, a fact not lost on Ford. Since his draw against Aaron Perez in March of 2021, Ford has won five straight, including a career-best performance in his last outing, an eighth round knockout of the once-beaten Sakaria Lukas last November.

Magdaleno (29-1, 18 KOs) figures to be a tougher test. The boxer-puncher won his world title with a unanimous decision over Nonito Donaire in 2016 and made one defense before losing it against Dogboe. He has since won four straight bouts, with the most significant being a matchup against former titleholder Rico Ramos in 2019.

“He’s versatile like me. I’ve seen him press a little bit, I’ve seen him box a little bit. I’ve got to change it up and be smart and be prepared for whatever he brings, whether we’re fighting on the inside or I keep him at bay with the distance. He’s not just a short guy who don’t know how to use the distance,” said Ford.

To prepare for this step-up, Ford went away to Las Vegas for training camp with trainers Reginald Lloyd and Freddy Anthony Rodriguez. This marks the fourth straight fight he has left his Southwestern New Jersey hometown to train among world class fighters like Shakur Stevenson and Jared Anderson, which he says has taken his preparations to the next level.

“I feel like when I’m back at home I got more distractions. I just need to get away from that and lock in. When I’m home I’ve noticed that I’m a little less in shape and not as focused and then I have a hard time when I fight or I’m cutting weight,” said Ford.

It has also become a necessity, as he has struggled to find sparring at home, despite training just minutes from the fight hub of Philadelphia.

The 24-year-old Ford doesn’t plan on staying at 126 pounds long, reasoning that his body is growing and it’s getting more difficult to melt down in weight. He hopes to secure a title opportunity against Mauricio Lara (26-2-1, 19 KOs), the rough Mexican brawler who won will make his first defense of the WBA featherweight belt on May 27 in a rematch against Leigh Wood.

Both of those fighters, like Ford, are signed with Matchroom Boxing, which would make negotiations far more simple. But Ford has to stand out to get an opportunity, and that begins with Magdaleno.

“I’m trying to send a message to the champions in the division, because that’s who I’m gunning for. Magdaleno is just my big step to get to that point. I don’t want to go into no fight and make it close. I always want to dominate and make it easy,” said Ford.

“I’m gonna be ready for whatever he comes with. If we gotta go to the trenches I’m gonna be ready for that, but we’re definitely gonna come out victorious.”

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].