ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey – Mark Magsayo doesn’t have a contractual obligation to grant Gary Russell Jr. a rematch.
Though free to fight any contender ranked within the top 15 by the WBC in his first title defense, even Magsayo’s promoter admitted that Russell deserves a second shot at the newly crowned champion. Sean Gibbons, the president of Manny Pacquiao Promotions, told BoxingScene.com following Magsayo’s upset of Russell that the undefeated Filipino champion should box Russell again.
“I would say Gary absolutely deserves a rematch,” Gibbons said. “He fought gallantly. He fought through a lot of stuff with his father, with his brother’s passing, the injury he sustained in the fight. So, I wanted to say to everybody I believe he deserves a rematch, if it fits into the schedule, and that he’s a classy guy. He really is, man. The guy showed up, fought hurt or whatever it was, so I like the Russell family. I really do.”
Russell, 33, didn’t have a rematch clause in his contract because such stipulations typically are prohibited in mandated matches. Magsayo, 26, was the WBC’s mandatory challenger for the 126-pound championship Russell had owned for nearly seven years before Magsayo dethroned him by winning a 12-round majority decision Saturday night in a main event Showtime televised from Borgata Event Center.
The left-handed Russell (31-2, 18 KOs), who had been boxing’s longest-reigning champion, fought effectively with one arm for eight-plus rounds after injuring his right shoulder while landing a punch early in the fourth round. Judge Lynne Carter scored their 12-rounder a draw, 114-114, but judges Mark Consentino and Henry Grant scored Magsayo a 115-113 winner.
In addition to the shoulder injury Russell initially suffered during training camp, the Capitol Heights, Maryland, resident had to work through the distractions Gibbons mentioned.
His father and career-long trainer, Gary Russell Sr., had his left foot amputated last month due to complications from type 2 diabetes. Gary Russell Sr. attended his son’s fight Saturday night after missing much of his training camp, but he was confined to shouting instructions from a wheelchair at ringside.
Gary Russell Jr. also discussed during the buildup toward this fight the difficulty he experienced dealing with the sudden death of another of his younger brothers. Gary “Boosa” Russell was just 25 years old when he died of a heart attack in December 2020.
The former WBC 126-pound champion’s shoulder injury likely will require surgery, which could impact whether he’ll get a rematch with Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs).
“I would never turn down a rematch,” Freddie Roach, Magsayo’s trainer, told BoxingScene.com. “But the thing is, we would do it if he was more active of a fighter and so forth, and we could count on it happening not in two years, sooner. He has taken two years off twice now and I think down time is the worst thing in the world for fighters. And it showed in his performance [Saturday night] – it really did. Activity is the best thing for fighters. It’s just the way it is, in my opinion.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.