Filipino boxer Mark Magsayo clinched the World Boxing Council featherweight belt after dethroning American Gary Russell Jr. with a majority decision win at the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City on Saturday, January 22 (Sunday, January 23, Manila time).
Two judges scored the bout 115-113, the other judge had it tied at 114-114. With the victory, Magsayo kept his immaculate record intact at 24-0.
Russel is the longest active champion , who held the WBC title since March 2015.
Russell’s record dropped to 31-2.
Magsayo now joins Jerwin Ancajas, Nonito Donaire, and Johnriel Casimero in the growing list of Filipino world champions.
Jerwin Ancajas’ New Year’s Eve super flyweight unification with Kazuto Ioka has been postponed due to travel restrictions.
Promoters were forced to shelve the fight scheduled on December 31 at the Ota-City General Stadium in Tokyo as Japan reimposes its entry restrictions for foreigners in response to the emergence of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
After three months of training in the United States, Ancajas, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) king, was set to fly out of Los Angeles on December 11.
Ioka, Japan’s lone four-division world champion and holder of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) 115-pound belt, also just held his press conference last week announcing his fight with the Filipino southpaw.
“Boxing has always been my passion. I was given the opportunity of representing the Philippines, bringing fame and honor to my country every time I enter the ring. I am grateful for all the accomplishments and the opportunity to inspire,” Pacquiao said at the start of the video.
Pacquiao credited his uncle, Sardo Mejia, who first taught him about boxing.
From there Pacquiao narrated how he aimed higher, the chance to represent the Philippines in the Olympics. Unfortunately, Pacquiao was not able to make the national team, rejected and told that he had no future in boxing. But that did not stop him from proving them wrong.
“Nangarap po ako na magkaroon ng pagkakataon na makalaban sa Olympics. Ngunit hindi po ako nakuha na maging bahagi ni Philippine team. Na-reject po ako. Sinasabing wala raw po akong pag-asa sa boxing,” Pacquiao said.
But that did not stop him from proving them wrong.
“Hindi po ako na-discourage. Buti na lang, tinanggap ako ng Davao Del Sur province upang maging bahagi ng kanila boxing team. Sila po ay naniwala sa akin,” Pacquiao added.
Pacquiao narrated his sacrifices and thanked God for the guidance that led him to people who would help him in his boxing journey.
“Taos puso po akong nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng taong naging bahagi ng aking tagumpay para marating ko ang aking kinalalagyan ngayon. Sila po ang naging instrument sa aking tagumpay,” Pacquiao said.
From there, Pacquiao thanked a long list of supporters including Rod Nazario, the man responsible for setting up the PacMan with trainer Freddie Roach.
“Hindi ko rin po makalimutan, and isa pang taong tumulong sa akin, ang aking naging manager na si Rod Nazario. He brought me to the United States 20 years ago and arranged my introduction to my trainer Freddie Roach at Wildcard Boxing gym,” Pacquiao said.
“Freddie Roach was not only my trainer but also my family, a brother, and a friend,” he added.
But beyond that, Pacquiao did not leave out other trainers who helped him in his boxing career. The list includes Mario Sumalinog, Alex Ariza, the Peñalosa brothers, Michael Koncz, and Buboy Fernandez.
Fernandez is someone very close to Pacquiao, a friend the boxer-senator says he has known almost all his life.
“There is no one closer to me than Buboy Fernandez whom I have known for almost my whole life. He is more than a coach to me,” Pacquiao said.
After thanking the people behind his success, Pacquiao dropped the statement that most boxing fans have long been waiting to hear.
“It is difficult for me to accept that my time as a boxer is over,” Pacquiao said in the video message on social media that immediately went viral. “Today I am announcing my retirement.”
“I never thought that this day would come. As I hang up my boxing gloves, I would like to thank the whole world, especially the Filipino people, for supporting Manny Pacquiao,” he went on.
“Goodbye boxing, thank you for changing my life when my family was desperate. You gave us hope. You gave us the chance to fight out of poverty. Because of you, I was able to inspire people all over the world. Because of you, I have been given the courage to change more lives,” he continued.
“I just heard the final bell. Tapos na ang boxing. Maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. God is good all the time,” he ended.
Despite suggestions that Pacquiao could fight one more time before the elections, sources say that it was a “crazy idea.” The boxing icon will be busy campaigning and the thought alone was crazy.
The same source was asked about the chances of Pacquiao returning to boxing, assuming he fails in his bid for the Philippine presidency. Per the unnamed source, the PacMan plans to head to the province if that happens and simply enjoy his retirement.
Most boxing personalities feel that Pacquiao has done more than enough for the sport and he should continue to focus on helping people. That includes the first female to the Boxing Hall of Fame, Christy Martin, when she was asked by this writer, when she appeared on the Sports For All PH podcast, what the Filipino boxing icon should do moving forward.
“He has made a lot of money, how many belts has he had? A future Hall of Famer, he has nothing left to prove,” Martin said. “So why not just hang it up and just continue doing what you do? Do the politics, help the people. He has done enough for boxing.” – jlo
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