Interesting fight coming up this weekend. American Mr. Gary Russell defends his WBC world title against Filipino Magnifico Mark Magsayo. Promoted by PBC and live on Showtime, January 22nd, 2022 at 6pm Pacific Time.
Do these fighters need introduction? If you’ve been a boxing fan for bit, Gary Russell, Jr. is probably someone you know of despite his supposed inactivity. You might know him from his fight with Vasily Lomachenko in 2014. Wow. That was a long time ago, wasn’t it? In that fight he lost a majority decision against one of the top P4P fighters in the world at the time and to this day. I remember watching that fight; it was competitive but Lomachenko had a little bit more tools in his tool box. Also, as a southpaw versus southpaw match up, it gets sorta weird for both fighters. Nevertheless, Gary Russell, Jr. has bounced back from that fight and is on top of the world again, winning 7 straight fights since then.
Mark Magsayo hailing from the Philippines might be someone you’re less acquainted with. I’ve actually been following him because of his previous promotional dispute in Asia. I follow some of the more active regional promotions and I remember there was something on about his contracts with one company and another. Clearly, those issues have been resolved. Now, he trains with Wild Card Boxing Club in Santa Monica, California and legendary coach Freddie Roach. I think he’s also with MP Promotions (Manny Pacquiao). So this fight against Gary Russell, Jr., appears to be a co-promotion with PBC (Premier Boxing Champions).
GARY RUSSELL FIGHTING STYLE: Mid-range Pressure Fighter
Looking at Gary Russell, Jr.’s fighting style, we can see that he is a southpaw. He prefers the mid-range, throws voluminous combinations. In my eyes, he’s actually a unique southpaw in that sense. Southpaws are typically counter punchers. The stylistic question is whether he is a boxer or a pressure fighter. I don’t think he’s a slugger. Although he has KOs and TKOs, with mostly TKOs, these knockouts (or referee stoppages) are typically the result from a cascade of unanswered punches instead of one punch power (the touch of death, as I like to think of it). With that in mind, I have to consider him a pressure fighter. I propose that he is a mid-range pressure fighter. Mid-range because his combinations tend to be straight punches with a splattering of hooks. Being a southpaw helps his defensive ability since he can spot the right hand coming, which is power punch most people throw.
MARK MAGSAYO FIGHTING STYLE: Mid-range Puncher
Mark Magsayo, I had to watch a bit of his fights to get a feel for how he fights. I viewed his last 3. I can comfortably say that he is puncher/slugger. Does he have the death touch, one punch KO power? I’m not sure. Clearly, he has power. However, I noticed that his last couple of KO wins have come late in the fight. Knockouts early in the fight tend to demonstrate a boxer’s devastating punching power. Knockouts late in the fight tend to be because of an opponent’s exhaustion. So early KO is due to power, late KO is due to an opponent’s fatigue.
Range-wise, I think he is mostly a mid-range type of fighter. He likes to bounce a little outside, but that is just for show. He doesn’t really initiate offense off that bounce or from the outside. Some call this sniper-style: bounce, bounce from the outside to get into mid-range, plant your feet, and fire punches. Whereas, a truly outside fighter might be stepping to connect on his punches; the hand lands before or at the same time as the foot. Another thing that tells me about his range, is when he finds himself on the inside, he doesn’t do much. Not much offense, a little bit loose on the defense. Mostly, he steps away. And defensively, Mark Magsayo seems a pretty loose at all ranges.
If all things were equal, Mark Magsayo should have the strategic advantage being he is a slugger and Gary Russell, Jr. is a pressure fighter. Pressure fighters play into the slugger’s game. Sluggers need to just land 1 punch to knock you out. Pressure fighters oblige them by coming forward to be hit.
Gary Russell, Jr. is unique in the sense that he is southpaw. His style is also unique in that he’s a mid-range pressure fighter. In the pro ranks, pressure fighters typically like to move inside. Being southpaw and initiating from mid-range gives Russell time and space for defensive maneuvers to counteract against power punching. So he is better and more skilled than the average pressure fighter.
Russell just needs to play his game, do his thing, and the fight should go how it usually goes for him. Put Magsayo on the back foot, which further negates his power, and keep the pressure coming. With Magsayo’s defense being loose as it is, a TKO is possible, perhaps after the 7th. 9th round maybe?
Magsayo needs to catch Russell early or he has to knockout Russell late. As his past fights have shown, Magsayo is more likely to get a late knockout. Can he? I don’t think Russell with be fatigued enough to put away. I’ve seen some say that Magsayo has a puncher’s chance; he does. Will he have that chance? I don’t think Russell will give it to him. He’ll have to take it.
I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.