Mark Magsayo Captures WBC Featherweight World Title With
Majority Decision Win Over Gary Russell Jr.
Photos: Amanda Westcott - SHOWTIME
Unbeaten Mark Magsayo defeated longtime champion Gary
Russell Jr. by majority decision Saturday night to
capture the WBC Featherweight World Championship in the
SHOWTIME main event from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in
Atlantic City, N.J. in a Premier Boxing Champions event
that was brimming with action from the telecast opener
to its conclusion.
“This is my dream come true,” said Magsayo. “Ever since
I was a kid, this was my dream. I’m so proud that I’m a
champion now. Thank you so much to the Filipino fans for
A protégé of Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao, Magsayo
(24-0, 16 KOs) was able to end the reign of boxing’s
longest male world champion by defeating Russell (31-2,
18 KOs) across 12 hard-fought rounds. Magsayo was able
to use his size advantage to lean on Russell throughout
the fight and benefited from an apparent injury to
Russell’s right shoulder that became discernable in
“I believe I have a torn tendon in my right shoulder,”
said Russell. “I haven’t competed in almost two years.
This is what true champions do. I wanted to step into
the ring and display my superiority regardless of the
“I hurt the shoulder about two weeks ago,” continued
Russell. “But I went through with the fight because I’m
a true champion and this is what warriors do. I’m going
to fight regardless of what the situation is. I refuse
to not compete and display my skillsets to my fans and
the people that came out to show support and love.
Please believe that I will be back. I still want these
“I knew that he was hurt in round four,” said Magsayo.
“I took advantage of it because he was only using one
hand. This was my opportunity to follow through. My
coach was telling me to use good combinations and follow
through. He said this is your chance to become a
champion and now I am a champion.”
Russell appeared to injure the shoulder throwing a short
right hand and immediately winced in pain and retreated
from the action. Russell was able to re-adjust his game
plan and had success focusing solely on variations of
his left hand. He slowed down the action and landed a
number of clean shots to keep Magsayo at bay in a
display of ring generalship, but it wasn’t enough to win
over the judges.
The Freddie Roach-trained Magsayo was able to land 41%
of his power shots in the contest, a significant
improvement from the 28% clip that Russell’s previous
eight opponents had connected on, according to CompuBox.
Russell was limited to just 64 jabs thrown and was
out-landed 150 to 69.
Magsayo continued to put the pressure on in the later
rounds and was able to ride that activity to victory,
including an attack that nearly dropped Russell late in
round 10, thrilling the Filipino fans in attendance.
At the end of the 12 rounds, Magsayo edged out the
decision on the judges’ cards with a 114-114 score
overruled by two judges seeing the bout 115-113 for
Magsayo. After the fight, Russell indicated that he
believed he still won the fight, while Magsayo left open
the possibility of a rematch.
“I believed in my skillset and what I bring into the
ring,” said Russell. “I felt like I still won the fight
to be honest. Hell yeah I want a rematch. Would he want
a rematch? That’s the question.”
“It’s up to my promotional team,” said Magsayo when
asked about a potential rematch. “But I’m willing to
fight anybody. I’m the champion now!”
In the co-main event, super lightweight contender
Subriel Matias (18-1, 18 KOs) scored a ninth-round TKO
over Petros Ananyan (16-3-2, 7 KOs) after dropping
Ananyan at the end of the round, prompting the referee
to stop the fight at the suggestion of the ringside
doctor between rounds.
The bout was a rematch of their 2020 match that Ananyan
won by decision. Matias was able to earn revenge for his
only career defeat and put himself on the path toward a
world title shot. The bout was contested on the inside
throughout, with Matias targeting the body early and
often, while Ananyan had success with chopping shots to
“This is the fight that I wanted,” said Matias, who was
jubilant in victory following the fast-paced affair.
“Ever since my defeat to him, I wanted to avenge the
loss. When you’re sure about yourself and you know that
you have the skills that you have, you take the
Matias was able to rack up a 252 to 164 advantage in
punches landed throughout the fight, including a 59-12
edge in body punches. Ananyan was more active than
Matias by a 761-678 margin but Matias’ 37% connect rate
out-paced Ananyan’s 21%.
Matias’ body attack backfired temporarily in round
seven, as referee Mary Glover deducted a point early in
the round. Matias continued to attack the body however,
and both fighters continued to have strong moments
through the end of the fight.
In the final seconds of round nine, Matias landed the
decisive blow via a counter left hook that immediately
badly hurt Ananyan and sent him to the canvas. Ananyan
was able to get to his feet and was saved by the bell
ringing shortly after. However, in between rounds the
ringside doctor deemed that Ananyan could no longer
continue and the bout was officially ruled a TKO after
“I’m not just a hard-hitter but the way that I fight is
like cutting down a tree,” said Matias. “Just keep
hitting them. I think I can improve my power but let’s
see what happens with time. I want to thank everybody
who made this fight possible, but I’m going to take my
time before deciding who I will fight next.”
In the telecast opener, hard-hitting contender Tugstsogt
Nyambayar (12-2-1, 9 KOs) and once-beaten Sakaria Lukas
(25-1-1, 17 KOs) fought to a spirited split-decision
draw after 10 rounds of super featherweight action. The
fight featured a controversial ruling of a slip on an
apparent knockdown for Lukas that would have given the
late-replacement the victory.
(Split-decision draw clip HERE)
The back-and-forth affair saw Nyambayar strike first,
connecting in round one with a left uppercut that caused
Lukas to stumble. Lukas was able to recover quickly, but
fell behind across the early rounds as Nyambayar
out-landed his opponent 67 to 46 across the first five
Lukas began to work his way back into the fight, landing
right hands off of a consistent jab, including an
overhand right that appeared to hurt Nyambayar in round
eight. After the right hand, Lukas landed a counter left
that put Nyambayar on the canvas, but the knockdown was
ruled a slip by referee Eddie Claudio.
“What I saw in real time, he fell down not from the
impact of the blow but from his body language, he just
slipped. His feet went and he slipped,” said Claudio
post fight to ringside reporter Jim Gray.
The potential missed knockdown call turned out to be the
difference in the fight, as Lukas won at least three of
the last five rounds according to all three judges. The
final tallies were 96-94 for Nyambayar, 96-94 for Lukas
and 95-95, resulting in the split-draw.
"I thought I won the fight and I didn't believe it was a
knockdown,” said Nyambayar. “It was a hard fight,
especially against an opponent on short notice. My goal
is to fight for the world title again."
"Everyone saw it was a knockdown that should have given
me a split-decision win,” said Lukas, who endured a
27-hour flight to the U.S. for the bout from his native
Namibia. “I fought my heart out and I deserved the win.
I took the fight on short notice, but I was ready to
win. I believe I won the fight, but I can't do anything
about the decision. We had the fans behind us, they know