LAS VEGAS – Mark Magasayo made Manny Pacquiao proud on the Filipino legend’s undercard Saturday night.
Magsayo dug deep against determined Mexican Julio Ceja and viciously knocked him out in the 10th round of a highly competitive featherweight fight at T-Mobile Arena. Magsayo, who is promoted by Pacquiao, overcame a fifth-round knockdown and knocked Ceja unconscious with a picture-perfect right hand early in the 10th round.
Referee Kenny Bayless waved an end to their scheduled 12-rounder 50 seconds into the 10th round as Ceja lay motionless on the canvas. Magsayo connected with a second right hand as an already unconscious Ceja was falling to the canvas.
Ceja left the ring on his own two feet and was guided toward his dressing room by his handlers.
Ceja was ahead on the scorecards of judges Max De Luca (86-83), Lisa Giampa (86-83) and Don Trella (87-82) entering the 10th round. The Philippines’ Magsayo remained undefeated (23-0, 16 KOs) and moved closer to a featherweight world title shot by winning this WBC eliminator on the Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugas undercard.
“I got knocked down and was surprised,” Magsayo said. “But I focused my mind on what I wanted, a world championship shot. It’s my dream today and now it’s coming true. Hopefully my next fight is a world title shot.”
Ceja (32-5-1, 28 KOs) slipped to 0-3-1 in his past four fights. The former WBC interim 122-pound champion lost by knockout or technical knockout for the fourth time in his 12-year, 37-fight pro career.
The round before Magsayo’s sensational knockout, Magsayo landed a right hand that forced Ceja to take a couple steps backward with 50 seconds to go in the ninth round. Ceja spent much of that round stalking Magsayo, who threw occasional punches.
Ceja pressed the action throughout a competitive eighth round
Magsayo backed up Ceja with a right-left combination in the second half of the seventh round. Ceja wasn’t hurt by those punches, but Magsayo at least kept him from coming forward temporarily.
Magsayo came back in the sixth round to test Ceja during the sixth round after suffering a knockdown late in the fifth round. Ceja continued to attack Magsayo’s body throughout that round, though, and made Magsayo fight off his back foot.
Magsayo hammered away at Ceja’s body in the opening minute of the fifth round. Ceja kept coming forward, though, and then went after Magsayo’s body.
They traded head and body shots at a frenetic pace during a thoroughly entertaining second half of the fifth round. A left hook up top by Ceja sent Magsayo to the canvas with just over 10 seconds to go in that fifth round.
Magsayo got up from one knee, but the bell rang before Ceja could capitalize on that momentum.
Ceja made Magsayo move away from him after landing two right hands in the middle minute of the fourth round. Magsayo stopped Ceja in his tracks with a right hand later in the fourth round.
Ceja’s left hook knocked Magsayo into the ropes with just under two minutes to go in the third round. Magsayo landed a right hand with about a minute to go in the third round, but Ceja fired right back.
Ceja caught Magsayo with two left hooks in the final 10 seconds of the third round.
After overcoming a first-round knockdown, Ceja pressured Magsayo throughout the second round. He caught Magsayo with a right uppercut just after the midway mark of the second round.
Magsayo landed flush shots to Ceja’s head and body with about 45 seconds to go in the second round.
A left hook by Magsayo sent Ceja flat on his back just 27 seconds into their fight. A stunned Ceja beat Bayless’ count and landed a left hook that backed up Magsayo about a minute later.
Ceja connected with a left to Magsayo’s body toward the end of the opening round as well.
Before he lost to Magsayo, Ceja had tested former champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and WBC 122-pound champ Brandon Figueroa in back-to-back bouts.
Rigondeaux stopped him in the eighth round of an unforeseen slugfest in June 2019. Ceja settled for a 12-round split draw with the undefeated Figueroa in November 2019.
Ceja boxed Saturday night for the first time in the 21 months since the Figueroa fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.