Magsayo’s earthquake drill

Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

The hammer-like punches featherweight prospect “Magni¬fico” Mark Magsayo unloaded on Mexican Rafael “Guerrerito” Reyes during the recent edition of the po¬pu¬lar TV boxing shows “Pinoy Pride” arguably registered on the Richter scale. When Magsayo uncorked that devastating left uppercut in the 5th round, Reyes crashed to the canvas like the debris of a building hit by a massive earthquake.

The victory raised Magsayo’s record to a perfect 11-0 with 9 knockouts and earned him the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) Youth featherweight (126 pounds) championship. While the win no doubt boosted Magsayo’s fistic stock, one has to be reminded that the kid from Tagbilaran City, Bohol is just 20 years old. The Reyes fight was nothing more than a shake drill, at the very least a sampling of the type of power and excitement Magsayo can dish out.

Reyes made for a slight improvement in the quality of Magsayo’s opponents. The 24-year-old Reyes came in with a record of 16-4 with 12 knockouts and the substantial stoppage wins showed that the Mexican had firepower, too. Magsayo admitted feeling Reyes’ power early in the fight but claimed that he was never seriously hurt.

“Nasuntok ako ng malakas sa first round pero kaya ko ang suntok niya,” Magsayo told this writer. “Hindi naman ako nahirapan sa laban pero may konting pressure dahil first (regional) championship fight ko ito.”

Reyes packed heat in the early rounds and willingly traded with Magsayo until he lost his composure by complaining too much. Reyes was dropped by a body blow in the third round, but he came back strong in the fourth by nailing Magsayo with a right. Reyes ran out of steam in the fifth stanza and Magsayo capitalized by emptying his arsenal. The left uppercut sealed the deal for Magsayo.

The packed crowd at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City erupted after Magsayo delivered the finishing blow that concluded one of the most exciting brawls seen in ‘Pinoy Pride.’ The silent whispers at ringside that Magsayo could be the next big thing in Philippine pro boxing started to gather steam, but Magsayo is quick to temper the burgeoning expectations. “Masayo po ako na sinasabi nila na next star po ako pero madami pa akong dapat i-improve gaya ng depensa ko.”

The third of four children, Jesselmark Araula Magsayo started boxing at age eight. He figured in more than 200 amateur fights and was being groomed for a possible spot in the Olympics when he decided to turn pro in May 2013. The recent victory over Reyes gave Magsayo his fifth straight knockout win; he has not gone the distance since he scored a unanimous decision over Korean Hyuk Tak Joo in May 2014.

The future bodes well for Magsayo. The kid’s rapid-fire combinations and punching power are meriting serious looks from the experts and it may only be a matter of time before he is fully unleashed to the international fight scene.

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