One thing is likely after Saturday night.
The WBC is going to see an increase in the number of times they collect sanctioning fees at featherweight.
The long reign of Gary Russell Jr., boxing’s least active titlist over the last six years, is over. Russell made a game go of it, fighting largely one-handed for most of the fight and keeping it close until the end. Close wasn’t good enough.
Mark Magsayo showed up with a smart early game plan and just enough activity in the second half not to cough up an early lead. Magsayo showed good combinations in spots but also some strange passivity in the middle rounds. The lead left of Russell kept stinging him and it kept Magsayo honest.
In the long run, it was an experience that could serve Magsayo well. In the fight before Russell, he came off the floor to win. On Saturday, he got to see some wrinkles from a savvy veteran. Magsayo is still learning on the job and may get better. It’s a good time to be where he is.
Futures: Featherweight is wide open. There are no real stars in the division nor any fights the public is demanding. It gives Magsayo room to breathe. There may be a mandatory obligation against Rey Vargas, so it won’t be easy to stay in the title seat. Russell will likely seek a rematch as well. Both would be interesting affairs.
The old adage is if you don’t use it, you lose it. Russell may yet rebound but he never did much to build demand for his services and if he seeks surgery to repair his shoulder, he may not be back in the ring again for another year. Russell is objecting to the loss but some of that may just be face saving. There was no good case for a win or even a draw. Russell was the most talented featherweight in the world for several years but he’s aging and coming off a loss. His moment may have passed.
Tugstsogt Nyambayar may already have peaked…Subriel Matias gets hit a lot and it’s unclear how far he can go. It doesn’t matter from a viewing perspective. He’s great TV…Will Anthony Joshua step aside to allow Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk? It might be a best case scenario for he and the division. Fury-Usyk is fascinating. Is Usyk the one guy in the division with the technical acumen to beat Fury or is the size mismatch just too much to overcome? Let’s find out…
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.