Mark Magsayo, revitalized at new weight, hopes Ramirez fight leads to shot at WBA champ Roach

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Mark Magsayo catches his breath after a sparring session. Photo by Lucas Noonan

Marvin Somodio knew before the first bell rang that Mark Magsayo had no business remaining at 126 pounds.

The young Filipino trainer, working for his first time as Magsayo’s chief second heading into a showdown with their 2023 showdown with Brandon Figueroa, recalls that he could barely feel Magsayo’s knuckles while warming him up in the dressing room on the punch mitts. Magsayo was holding back whatever strength he had for the fight, and after a half-hearted attempt at loosening up, he went out and lost a unanimous decision to the aggressive Mexican-American southpaw.

For Magsayo, the decision to move up to 130 pounds came one fight too late, but now Somodio believes fans will see a different Magsayo from what they’re used to seeing in recent fights.

“He always has his power but after the weigh-in sometimes he’s drained and his energy is less. But this time he can show his speed, his stamina, his power and skill. This time he can show it and he’s comfortable, even though he’s still big at 130 and he’s going to be so much better than he was at 126,” said Somodio.

Now Magsayo prepares to face another southpaw, but this time he expects to have his strength and stamina with him this Saturday, June 15 when he faces former title challenger Eduardo Ramirez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as part of the Premier Boxing Champions card headlined by the Gervonta Davis vs. Frank Martin fight. Magsayo-Ramirez will be one of three preliminary fights shown live on the PBC YouTube stream, beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET, prior to the Amazon Prime pay-per-view portion of the card.

The 28-year-old Magsayo will be making his second straight appearance at 130 pounds after competing at 126 pounds since his professional debut in 2013 at the age of 17. In his previous fight last December, the former WBC featherweight titleholder knocked out journeyman Isaac Avelar in three rounds.

“I feel better, comfortable and strong. It’s easier to make for me especially since I maintained my weight since my last fight in December. I started training a day after that fight. I feel complete coming up the ring at 130 versus 126. There I feel I lose my legs and my strength,” said Magsayo (25-2, 17 knockouts) of Tagbilaran City, Philippines about his move up in weight.

Ramirez (28-3-3, 13 KOs) is a name that has been floated to Magsayo for some time, giving him ample time to prepare for the matchup. The 31-year-old Ramirez of Los Mochis, Mexico had previously fought for a world title, losing a unanimous decision to Lee Selby in 2017 for the IBF featherweight belt, while his biggest wins include decisions over Miguel Marriaga, Luis Melendez and Edivaldo Ortega. He has won one fight since being knocked out in two rounds by Isaac Cruz in 2022, stopping Sebastian Diaz Maldonado in six rounds last August.

“This guy is not an easy guy. He has experience and he fought the best too. He’s a former world title challenger and he can give us a good fight. With him I think we can show where Mark Magsayo is at, which is at the top level,” said Somodio, who believes Magsayo will eventually grow into the lightweight division as well.

Promoter Sean Gibbons, who guides Magsayo under the MP Promotions banner, says the matchup makes sense given Ramirez’s experience. He believes that Ramirez, like Magsayo, will be even better at 130, given that his only KO loss came at 135 pounds.

“These are the type of guys that Mark should be fighting. They’re top ten guys but so is Mark but Mark is a better fighter overall. I like the style because Mark does well with southpaws, he’s got a beautiful hook and it’s really just the fight that Mark needs to be at the level that he needs to be to hopefully get a WBA world title shot with Lamont Roach,” said Gibbons.

“He’s been training for this guy for six months so I think this is that [Julio] Ceja moment again where Mark goes out and steals the night in spectacular fashion and everybody goes ‘wow, he’s back,’” said Gibbons.

“You get very few shots to put yourself back on top and this is the night to do it.”

Magsayo smiles during training camp for his fight against Eduardo Ramirez. Photo by Lucas Noonan

Magsayo understands that as well. After a whirlwind run where he ended Gary Russell’s long WBC title reign in January of 2022, then lost it in his first defense to Rey Vargas six months later, and then suffered the Figueroa defeat, Magsayo needs to make an impression now if he is to be given the attention he needs to be moved as a title contender.

“It is very important to me, more than every other fight. Because I have a new goal of becoming a two-time world champion and I want to show the world that I am stronger at 130,” said Magsayo, who now lives and trains in the Los Angeles area.

“I’ve learned a lot with everything I’ve been through. I also learned that I matured mentally and physically and needed to move up in weight. I want to bring my power in the ring which I do now at 130. My body is maturing too so I need to listen to my body.”

The ten-round fight will have a minor WBA regional title at stake, which will likely push the winner up in the rankings. Magsayo, who is currently rated no. 6 by the WBA at 130 pounds, hopes a win over Ramirez can put him in line to face Roach (24-1-1, 9 KOs), who makes the first defense of his WBA junior lightweight title on June 28 against unbeaten Irish contender Feargal McCrory (16-0, 8 KOs) in his hometown of Washington D.C.

Roach, 28, won the belt in his last fight, dropping Hector Garcia in the twelfth round to win a split decision. Magsayo hopes he can produce an eye-catching performance that gets him to the top of the list for Roach’s next opponent.

“I am focusing on this fight because I need to show a great fight so I can get the title shot for the WBA belt. I’ve never had a WBA belt so I’m hopingget a chance for it,” said Magsayo.

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].

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