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Russell Jr. wants rematch, says he beat Magsayo

Gary Russell Jr. boxing photo

By Jim Calfa: Gary Russell Jr. insists that he did enough to win and hold onto his WBC featherweight title in his 12 round majority decision loss to mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) last Saturday night at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, NJ. After the fight, Russell Jr. sounded confused, believing that he’d given Magsayo a “boxing lesson.”

The loss for the 33-year-old Russell Jr. ends his seven-year reign as the WBC 126-lb champion, which began in 2015.

Despite fighting with only his left arm from the fourth round, Russell fought reasonably given the circumstances, but he did NOT look like he’d done enough to have his hand raised at the end of the 12 round contest.

What was strange about the fight was how the 5’6″ Magsayo, who looked HUGE compared to the 5’4 1/2″, was able to outbox Russell Jr. during the first quarter of the fight.

I don’t know how Magsayo can meltdown to fight at 126, but he looks like a full-fledged lightweight, just as big as undisputed 135-lb champion George Kambosos Jr., and bigger than Vasily Lomachenko.

Few boxing fans expected Magsayo to outbox Russell, but he had a significant size advantage that helped him. Magsayo looked like a rehydrated lightweight tonight compared to Russell, which made a difference in the fight.

This was before Russell Jr. tweaked his right shoulder, forcing him to fight with only his left arm for the remaining eight rounds.

The scores were: 114-114, 115-113, 115-113.

Russell Jr. wants a rematch with Magsayo

“Hell yeah. Will he want a rematch?” said Russell Jr. after the fight when posed the question of whether he wanted a rematch with Magsayo.

“I believe I have a torn tendon in my right shoulder. “I haven’t competed in almost two years,”  said Russell Jr. in stating the obvious.

“I wanted to step into the ring and display my superiority regardless of the injury and whatnot.  I gave him a boxing lesson the whole way through.

“I landed clean whenever I wanted to. I couldn’t use my right arm, but I was still able to throw effective shots and touch him at will.

“I felt like I still won the fight. I fought with one arm. He had his hands full with a fighter with one arm, and the whole fight, I gave him a boxing lesson!”

Russell Jr. didn’t win, and you got to blame his decision to stay out of the ring for two solid years going into this fight with Magsayo.

Gary’s seven-year reign ends with a whimper

For a fighter with the kind of experience that Russell Jr. has as an amateur and a professional, he should have had the sense to know that he would be asking for trouble by staying out of the ring for two years before defending his title against the young gun Magsayo.

How could Russell Jr. be so wrong? A fundamental disconnect on his part, and he paid for it tonight, with Magsayo making him look like an old man during stretches of the fight.

The only reason the fight was close is that Magsayo fought like he had no sense. If he had taken the fight to Russell Jr. once he hurt his shoulder in the fourth, he could have made this fight a lot easier.

Sadly, Russell Jr. only defended his WBC title six times in seven years as a champion. In terms of title defenses, that has got to be one of the fewest amounts for a champion that has held a title for as long as Russell Jr. had.

Although he says he couldn’t get anyone to fight him during those years, it’s clear that he could have fought regular contenders and still made good money.

Russell’s focus on getting the big names prevented him from taking other voluntary fights that would have paid well and increased his popularity, and he ended up sitting idle.

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