It looks like things are looking up for undefeated Filipino knockout artist Mark Magsayo (16-0 with 12 KOs) with his latest win coming by way of first-round stoppage on April 29 against Issa Nampepeche of Tanzania.
But what can you expect from Nampepeche, who is now 24-8-4 with 11 KOs and three stoppage losses? One vicious left hook from Magsayo was all that was needed to seal the fate of the Tanzanian or to put him down for the first time. The referee stopped the fight after the second knockdown.
While Magsayo does have a lot of potential to become a world champion or even a multi-weight champion, he has yet to be tested given the type of opposition he has taken so far. Perhaps the only real opposition he has faced so far is Chris Avalos of the US, who challenged for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) world super bantamweight title (122 pounds also called junior featherweight) against Carl Frampton but lost via stoppage. Magsayo stopped Avalos (26-5 with 19 KOs) in April last year.
But then, rushing Magsayo to take on a higher level of opposition might not be a wise move at this point. Just look at the The Ring magazine’s rankings at featherweight (126 pounds)—it is also loaded with talent.
The Ring still doesn’t have a champion for featherweight but at No. 1 is Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico (33-1-1 with 18 KOs), the World Boxing Association champion; at No. 2 is Garry Russell Jr. also of the US, the World Boxing Council champion (27-1 with 16 KOs); at No. 3 Carl Frampton of UK (23-1 with 14 KOs); at No. 4 Lee Selby also of the UK (24-1 with 9 KOs), the IBF title holder; and at No. 5 Abner Mares of Mexico (30-2-1 with 15 KOs).
But here is the catch—there are many fighters who are now champions who fought a number of no-name opponents even prior to winning a title.
Perhaps “padding” a fighter’s record to make it look fearsome or scary is one good marketing ploy or strategy. Even Mike Tyson padded his record with no-name bums and cream puffs.
So for how long should Magsayo take on opposition that is not stiff? Maybe up to his 20th fight?
Besides at 21 years old, it would be foolish to rush Magsayo into a world title bout, or even an eliminator.
There is also a need to improve the defense of Magsayo, as evidenced in the Avalos fight. But make no mistake—Magsayo is a vicious puncher who consistently hits with both fists.
There are actually very few fighters who can hit consistently with both fists, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Roman Gonzalez coming into mind. On the other hand, two of the country’s top fighters—Donaire and Manny Pacquiao—have relied more on the hook and cross, respectively.
If there is one fighter in The Ring rankings at featherweight that I would consider “safe” for Magsayo, it is Mares. Since losing to compatriot Jhonny Gonzales in August 2013 via first round stoppage, Mares never recovered his fearsome reputation and has not won by knockout.
Magsayo-Mares can happen after the Filipino disposes two or three more fighters. At this point, I even believe Magsayo can give Mares a handful in the ring or win over the Mexican by decision. Or even late stoppage.