The lesser spotted WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. makes his annual appearance this weekend, defending his strap for the sixth time against Mark Magsayo.
Magsayo is unbeaten in 23 fights as a pro and boasts a healthy 70% knockout percentage, previously collecting trinkets such as the WBO International and the WBC Asian Boxing Council titles en route to this shot at ultimate glory.
We head to New Jersey for this world title fight, with the opening bell expected around 3am on Sunday morning UK time.
Let’s take a closer look at the action:
Gary Russell Jr. out of hibernation
Since picking up the WBC featherweight title in 2015, 33-year-old Gary Russell Jr. has fought just five times.
That works out at just one fight every 498 days for all you math whizzes out there, underlining the lack of excitement around the reign of the southpaw.
Granted, Russell has looked exceptional when he has entered the ring.
Wins over Tugstsogt Nyambayar, Kiko Martinez and Jojo Diaz – in particular – were impressive against skilled operators, with opposition finding it near impossible to pin down the slippery port-sider.
His solitary loss came back in 2014 against one of the very best to grace the ring, Vasyl Lomachenko, but since that contested majority decision loss, Russell has kept his powder very dry.
One consideration coming into Saturday’s return to the ring is a niggling injury picked up in camp.
“I never go into any of my fights 100 percent to be honest with you,” Russell explained this week to the assembled media. “I do have a little slight injury but I prefer not to elaborate on it until after the fight. We’re going to get through this fight, we’re still going to make things shake and then we’ll go ahead and put it out there after it’s all said and done.”
Russell has only won by stoppage in five of his last 11 outings, and a points victory against the spirited challenger looks the most likely outcome.
Gary Russell Jr. to beat Mark Magsayo by Decision/Technical Decision at 4/5 with bet365.January 17, 2022
Unbeaten Magsayo poses a threat
Records may be “for DJs”, but it’s worth taking a look at Mark Magsayo’s unbeaten slate.
The Filipino is being tipped by many to become his nation’s next superstar – following in the big footsteps of Manny Pacquiao – with a sparkling 23-0 record as a pro looking impressive.
The 26-year-old can bang and his recent stoppage of the game and tough Julio Ceja is proof that he can mix it on the big stage.
Inactivity is the biggest killer of a champion and Magsayo’s youth and energy could be pivotal down the stretch in New Jersey.
Magsayo has laced up his gloves three times since Russell last graced a ring and will be banking on catching the American cold.
Mark Magsayo to beat Gary Russell Jr. by KO/TKO at 11/2 with bet365.January 19, 2022