Boxing’s in-ring product is red hot right now. The biggest stars haven’t aligned yet, though we’re getting to some of those dates, but if one is just looking for entertaining violence then 2023 is nothing to complain about.
Saturday night (Showtime, 9 PM EST) could be more of the same.
Competing to either take the place of, or challenge, Rey Vargas as WBC titlist, we have a clash of former titlists with complimentary styles. The last point is key and it’s why boxing has been so good lately. Matchmaking matters and the matchmakers have put the right pairings together lately.
In this case, both men are in their prime with their first losses coming recently enough that the risk of another defeat so soon feels like real risk. The featherweight division feels like one in a bit of flux. Someone is going to settle some of that down before the final bell this weekend.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Previous Titles: WBC Featherweight (2022)
Weight: 126 lbs.
Hails from: Rizal, Metro Manila, Philippines
Record: 24-1, 16 KO
Press Rankings: #3 (TBRB, Ring), #4 (BoxRec), #5 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-1
Last Five Opponents: 130-10-2 (.922)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: None
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Pungluang Sor Singyu UD12; Julio Ceja KO10; Gary Russell Jr. MD12; Rey Vargas L12
Previous Titles: WBA Super Bantamweight (2021)
Weight: 125 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Welasco, Texas
Record: 23-1-1, 18 KO
Press Rankings: #1 (BoxRec), #5 (TBRB), #8 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-1, 1 KO (4-1-1, 3 KO including WBA sub-title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 124-6-1 (.950)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Luis Nery KO7; Stephen Fulton L12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Julio Ceja D12
The Pick: If Mark Magsayo were a proven bigger puncher, if he were someone we knew could make aggression against him costly at the highest level, Brandon Figueroa might look like he was in more danger here. Magasyo certainly can make an opponent pay but, whether in a win over Gary Russell or his loss to Vargas, the problem has been Magsayo sometimes doesn’t throw when he should. Against Figueroa, that’s going to be a problem.
Figueroa is a violent body puncher once he warms up and, looking at recent Compubox numbers, even Figueroa’s warm up rounds are on par with Magsayo’s upside in terms of output. Figueroa has shown a good chin and by the fourth and fifth rounds, he should be doubling Magsayo in output. This could be an explosive contest and should be entertaining but Figueroa has more dimensions, more size, and ultimately he’s likely to drown Magsayo in leather. The pick is Figueroa to win, perhaps by corner stoppage in the last third of the contest.
Rold Picks 2023: 8-0
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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