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Vargas dethrones Magsayo, claims WBC featherweight belt

Rey Vargas dethroned Mark Magsayo and successfully claimed the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight belt with a split decision victory Saturday night (Sunday PH time), July 9, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Mark Magsayo and Rey Vargas (Esther Lin / SHOWTIME Boxing) 

Vargas towered over Magsayo and used solid and accurate jabs while maintaining his distance to eke out a 115-112, 113-114, 115-112 victory and become a two-division world boxing champion.

Despite being knocked down in the ninth round, Vargas, 31, did not waver and showed steely nerves and a gallant stand against the 27-year-old Magsayo.

The Mexican star remained unbeaten in 36 straight matches built on 22 knockouts while handing the Filipino’s first loss of his career at 24-1 record with 16 KOs.

The Philippines is now left without a world boxing champion following Magsayo’s loss.

“It was a great fight,” said Vargas. “I have no words to describe what happened. I’m so proud. It’s my second title. It’s going back with me to Mexico.”

Before moving up to the featherweight division, Vargas, Magsayo’s mandatory challenger, dominated the super bantamweight class and made five title defenses for his WBC title since winning the vacant spot against Gavin McDonnell last February 2017.

Vargas is most likely set for a unification title bout against World Boxing Association featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz, another Mexican who was on Magsayo’s radar the previous months.

The first few rounds saw a nip-and-tuck affair as the two featherweight stars simply brawled it out on the floor but it all boiled down to the latter half where Magsayo slowly showed glimpse of a comeback attempt.

Vargas may have fallen on his knees in the ninth round — suffering only the fourth knockdown of his career — after catching a quick straight right from Magsayo with less than 45 seconds to go but admitted that the blow “wasn’t that effective but it counts.”

“He got me there. He got me with that one,” recalled the much taller Vargas, who stands at 5-foot-10. “I had been in control the whole fight but in the ninth when he got me, I lost a little control.”

Magsayo desperately closed in on Vargas and unloaded a couple of power punches in the next rounds but Vargas also showed sharp reflexes and wisely countered with quick jabs.

Momentum sided with the Tagbilaran, Bohol native boxer and connected another hefty right hand but the Mexican pugilist kept enough distance to fend off the close-range combat.

Vargas, however, came alive in the eleventh frame and landed a clean left hook but Magsayo was unfazed and leveled his boxing with a couple of hooks.

Magsayo badly needed a knockout but his left hook midway through the final round but that only counted as his most significant punch of the twelfth as time expired with Vargas still keeping distance.

As for the former champion, Magsayo vowed to return soon and climb his way back to the top of the featherweight division.

“He’s (Vargas) the man of today. That’s all,” said Magsayo. “I’ll come back stronger. I did my best. [I need a] little rest and I’ll train to fight again. I’ll correct my mistakes next fight.”

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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