MANILA, Philippines—Gary Russell Jr. has held WBC World featherweight championship for nearly seven years but undefeated challenger Mark Magsayo believes he has what it takes to end that lengthy reign.
In an interview with BoxingScene.com, Magsayo said he’s better than Russell’s former challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar being more of a boxer than a brawler.
“I’m a better fighter than Tug. I’m better than him, so I think Gary Russell, for me, he’s not easy. It’s gonna be a challenge for me to fight with him. But I’m different than Tug. He is just a brawler fighter. Me, I know how to box. I can adjust in the middle of the fight,” said Magsayo.
The two have been respectful of each other leading up to their Sunday (Manila time) title match at Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) January 21, 2022
The competitive fire, though, has always burned for Magsayo, who easily made weight on Saturday.
The knockout artist proved he’s a worthy challenger when he knocked out former title challenger Julio Ceja in the 10th round of their August 2021 fight to earn his shot against Russell.
Magsayo said Russell expects him to just be contented with using power in his fights and he’s out to prove to the 2008 Olympian that he’s more than capable of utilizing the other aspects of the sport.
“He’s not expecting that I’m fast and have speed, too. I’m not all power. That’s what he thinks about me. I’ll prove to him that I’m not slow or weak,” said Magsayo in the report. “I’m strong and fast, and that’s what I’m gonna prove when I face him. Gary Russell underestimates my ability. He thinks that I’m slow. It’s good to think that I’m slow, so that he can be surprised when I face him.”
“Gary Russell, he’s different from the other fighters that I fought. He’s a tactical fighter. He’s a skillful fighter. He’s different from Julio Ceja. Julio Ceja’s a brawler fighter. So, it’s a good to fight with Gary Russell because I want a challenge. I want to challenge an elite fighter.”
Russell won the belt in March 2015 when he stopped Jhonny Gonzalez in four rounds but he’s only defended the strap five times.
The 33-year-old last defended the strap against Nyambayar in February 2020, a month before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Magsayo, meanwhile, fought three times from during Russell’s inactivity with two wins coming via knockout.
“He fights once a year.He’s used to that. That’s his style. Me, I want to fight at least twice a year,” said Magsayo. “Maybe he needs to fight like that. For five or six years, he fought only four guys or five guys.”
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