Gary Russell Jr. drained, facing dangerous Mark Magsayo on Saturday

By Boxing News - 01/21/2022 - Comments

By Jeff Aronow: Gary Russell Jr. looked 100% drained on Friday at the weigh-in for the title defense of his WBC featherweight belt against his #1 mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo.

(Photo credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

The difference between how the 26-year-old youthful Magsayo looked and old & depleted-appearing Russell Jr. was like night and day.

This is the wrong opponent for Russell, 33, to be fighting if he’s less than 100%, as Magsayo can’t punch and is a relentless attacker.

Hopefully, Russell Jr knows what he’s getting into with this fight because we could see a new champion on Saturday.

Russell Jr. (31-1-1, 18 KOs) is sailing into a perfect storm with him coming into the fight injured, weight drained, old, and not having fought in two solid years.

It’s a terrible mix of things that Russell has going against him in this fight, and it might ultimately be too much for him.

Russell Jr says he feels energized

“I’m good. A slight miscalculation on my scale. I like to come in exactly on weight,” said Gary Russell Jr. to Fighthype following the weigh-in. “126, I was dead on with my scale.

Image: Gary Russell Jr. drained, facing dangerous Mark Magsayo on Saturday

“We’re right on the scale. I  feel good and energized. We’re ready to rumble. My pops here. I’m glad he’s here that he was able to make it. He’s still not in the best of health, but we’re going to make it shake,” said Russell.

“Here you are 33-years-old already, you’ve made six title defenses, but you’re fighting for the first time in two years against a fast, hard-hitting Freddie Roach trained featherweight Mark Magsayo,” said Max Kellerman to Max on Boxing in talking about Gary Russell Jr. “How dangerous is this fight for you at this point in your career?”

“To be honest with you, every fight is dangerous for me at this point in my career,” said Russell Jr. “Anyone that I compete against at this stage is a challenge.

Gary Jr. admits Magsayo is “dangerous”

“It’s a dangerous fight, so I’ve prepared myself to the best of my ability,” said Russell Jr. on his defense against the 26-year-old Magsayo.

“We’re ready; we’re focused.”

“Is that because you’re older or because you’ve reached a level where if you don’t duck guys, you have to fight one killer after another?” said Kellerman to Russell. “Why is every fight dangerous at this point in your career?”

“It’s a little bit of both,” said Russell Jr. on him getting older and fighting killers one after another. “I don’t duck guys, and I’m fighting one killer after the next, as you said.

“I’m not fighting none of these other [featherweight] champions because they’re not willing to unify,” said Russell Jr. “I’m always competing against my mandatory challenger.

“To the fans that don’t know, the mandatory challenger is the next best guy to the world champion. I’m not the #1 guy. My number one challenger is my #1 guy. I’m the champion. That’s the reason why.

“I prepare myself to the best of my ability, no matter what the situation is,” said Russell Jr.

With Russell’s habit of fighting only once a year, he puts himself in a position where he’s always stuck fighting his mandatory challenger,  which is risky when you’re only on an annual basis.

Typically, a champion wants to be as active as possible before facing their mandatory. Still, Russell is at a disadvantage with his bad habit of defending yearly instead of two to three times.

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Gary Russell Jr. vs. Mark Magsayo  undercard weights

  • Subriel Matias 140.5 vs. Petros Ananyan 141
  • Tugstogt Nyambayer 128 vs. Sukaria Lucas 127.5
  • Abimael Ortiz 123 vs. Ryan Allen 122
  • Leshawn Rodriguez 156.5 vs. Sixto Suazo 156.5
  • Max Garland 146.5 vs. Marik Black 142.5
  • Rasheen Brown 124 vs. Katsuma Akitsugi 123.5
  • Evan Holyfield 151.5 vs. Chris Rollins 151.5