Notebook: Figueroa, Magsayo expect fight of the year candidate
Golovkin-Lara purse bid scheduled; Prograis honored by hometown; Jake Paul imitates your writer; BetUS show; Quick hits; Show and tell
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Only two months into 2023 and there have already been several tremendous action-packed battles, some which figure to be in the fight of the year conversation. Among the standout fights so far: Luis Nery-Azat Hovhannisyan, Mauricio Lara-Leigh Wood, Artur Beterbiev-Anthony Yarde, Subriel Matias-Jeremias Ponce and Emanuel Navarrete-Liam Wilson on the men’s side and Amanda Serrano-Erika Cruz for the women.
There have been bangers week after week — sometimes multiple fights per week — and it appears that, at least on paper, the stretch will continue when former world titleholders Brandon Figueroa and Mark Magsayo lace ‘em up for the vacant WBC interim featherweight title in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader on Saturday (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET) at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California.
“This could be another fight of the year candidate,” Figueroa said.
Magsayo declared, “I guarantee that this is going to be a great fight.”
They both have come-forward styles, good power, seemingly good chins and even though both have skills they have a penchant for brawling. Hearing them talk about the kind of fight they expect just adds to the anticipation.
“Everyone is going to see that I’m coming with everything,” Figueroa said. “I have to make a big statement at 126 and leave my mark. I’m trying to win more titles and show I’m one of the best.
“Just expect a great fight. I hit a lot harder than Julio Ceja (who lost by 10th-round knockout to Magsayo in 2021 but dropped him), especially now that I’m at 126 pounds. I’m strong and powerful. I can’t wait to give everyone a great show. I’m going to mix it up with Mark. I have nothing but respect for him, but I’m ready.”
Magsayo also weighed in on his expectation for the fight.
“Fans can expect that this is going to be a real fight. Neither of us are backing down,” he said. “We’re coming forward. Whatever happens in the fight, we’re ready for it. I’ve fought a lot of good fighters and big punchers. I can take it, because I want to win.
“I guarantee this is going to be a great fight. We’re both prepared, so let’s see what happens on Saturday night. The winner of this fight is definitely the fans.”
There are high stakes for both men. The interim 126-pound belt is up for grabs but, more notably, the winner will earn a shot at the full WBC titleholder, Mexico’s Rey Vargas (36-1, 22 KOs), who plans to return to the division to defend his title after stepping up to junior lightweight and losing a decision to O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC 130-pound belt on Feb. 11.
For Manny Pacquiao protégé Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs), 27, of the Philippines, that would mean a rematch with Vargas. After Magsayo outpointed Gary Russell Jr. in a major upset to win the WBC featherweight title in January 2022 he lost a split decision and the title in his next fight to Vargas last July.
“This is different than my last fight. Rey Vargas likes to run, but Figueroa comes to fight,” Magsayo said. “It’s a big difference and it’s going to be much more exciting. I’m very excited for this fight. It’s a good opportunity to get back to a world title fight. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m ready to go.”
Figueroa (23-1-1, 18 KOs), 26, of Weslaco, Texas, suffered his only loss by disputed majority decision to Stephen Fulton in a junior featherweight title unification bout that was a strong contender for 2021 fight of the year. After the defeat, Figueroa moved up to featherweight and knocked out Carlos Castro in the sixth round of a title eliminator in July.
When a planned rematch with Fulton went by the wayside after Fulton instead elected to head to Japan for much bigger money to defend against unbeaten former undisputed bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue in the spring, Figueroa was matched with Magsayo instead.
“Magsayo is an amazing fighter and I expect a lot from him,” Figueroa said. “Magsayo is a strong fighter, but I’m a strong fighter as well. I have what it takes to take this fight right to him and show the world that I have the same power at featherweight.
“As fans expected from Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, this is going to be an amazing fight. We both have the heart of a lion and we’re both trying to become champions again.”
Golovkin-Lara purse bid
Last month, Gennadiy Golovkin vacated the IBF middleweight title due to there being no commercial interest in his due mandatory defense against Esquiva Falcao. Now, GGG faces the same situation as it relates to the due mandatory defense of his other belt against WBA “regular” titleholder Erislandy Lara.
There is also little interest in that bout from broadcasters, which could lead to GGG once again either vacating or being stripped because the WBA on Friday scheduled a purse bid to determine the promotional rights for the fight.
Even though the sides have spoken there is nothing remotely close to a deal being made and broadcaster disinterest, at least in terms of satisfying Golovkin’s financial expectations after he has grown used to making eight-figure purses under his now-expired deal with DAZN.
The purse bid is scheduled for March 13 at the WBA offices in Panama City, Panama with the minimum bid being $200,000. The split would be 75-25 in favor of Golovkin.
The 40-year-old Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) traveled to Japan last April and knocked out then-WBA titlist Ryota Murata to unify it with his IBF title. Then Golovkin moved up to super middleweight to challenge rival and undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez in September to conclude their trilogy but lost a clear decision. Afterward, Golovkin said he would not retire and head back to middleweight to defend his titles, which now appears unlikely.
Lara (29-3-3, 17 KOs), 39, a Cuban southpaw fighting out of Houston, claimed the vacant secondary belt by second-round knockout of Ramon Alvarez (Canelo’s older brother) in August 2019 and has made three extremely soft defenses against Greg Vendetti, Thomas LaManna and, most recently, Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan last May.
Golovkin and Lara were finally ordered to consolidate the WBA middleweight division as part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to have its “super” titleholders face the “regular” titlist to get down to one titleholder in each weight class.
BetUS Boxing Show
If you missed the BetUS Boxing Show live at 1 p.m. ET on Friday on YouTube, please check out the replay (and also subscribe to the YouTube channel). We previewed and picked the top two fights on Saturday night’s Showtime card: Brandon Figueroa versus Mark Magsayo for the vacant WBC interim featherweight title and the comeback of middleweight Jarrett Hurd against Armando Resendiz. We also took viewer questions and comments! Please check out the show here:
New Orleans honors Prograis
WBC junior welterweight titleholder Regis Prograis was honored by his hometown of New Orleans during a Thursday ceremony at which Mayor LaToya Cantrell presented him with the key to the city.
Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs), 34, a two-time junior welterweight titleholder, won the vacant WBC belt by 11th-round knockout of Jose Zepeda on Nov. 26 in Carson, California.
Prograis last boxed in New Orleans in back-to-back fights in 2018 in wins over Juan Jose Velasco and Terry Flanagan before he won the WBA title about two hours away in Lafayette, Louisiana, by knocking out Kiryl Relikh in the sixth round.
Like many from New Orleans, Prograis was severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the city in 2005. He relocated to Houston but has always maintained ties to New Orleans, where he still has family and friends.
Jake Paul imitates Dan Rafael
Two things I learned this week: Jake Paul does a horrible impression of me and also thinks I still work for ESPN.
I was not aware of this video until a few days ago but during the lead up to his fight with Tommy Fury this past Sunday, Paul posted a video to his popular YouTube channel of him prank calling John Fury, Tommy’s father and trainer, pretending to be me while seeking an interview. It was all in good fun and I found it hilarious. I think you might too. Enjoy!
Weights from Ontario, California, for Saturday’s PBC card on Showtime: Brandon Figueroa 125.8 pounds, Mark Magsayo 126 (for vacant WBC interim featherweight title); Jarrett Hurd 159.2, Armando Resendiz 161; Amilcar Vidal 159, Elijah Garcia 158.6; Terrell Gausha 156.6, Brandyn Lynch 155.6; Travon Marshall 145.6, Justin DeLoach 147; Enriko Gogokhia 143, Samuel Teah 141.6; Miguel Hernandez 160.8, Dario Guerrero 161; Albert Gonzalez 125, Joseph Cruz 122.6; Anthony Cuba 132, Darel Harris 130; Daniel Blancas 168.2, Kynndale Prather 165.4
Per California State Athletic Commission, official purses for Saturday’s PBC card on Showtime: Brandon Figueroa $500,000; Mark Magsayo $300,000; Jarrett Hurd $100,000, Armando Resendiz $50,000; Amilcar Vidal $25,000, Elijah Garcia $25,000; Terrell Gausha $30,000, Brandyn Lynch $17,500; Justin DeLoach $12,000, Travon Marshall $10,000; Enriko Gogokhia $20,000, Samuel Teah $20,000; Miguel Hernandez $5,000; Dario Guerrero $5,000; Albert Gonzalez $5,000, Joseph Cruz $4,000; Anthony Cuba $5,000, Darel Harris $6,000; Daniel Blancas $3,000, Kynndale Prather $2,000.
Weights from Culiacan, Mexico for Saturday’s Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN: Angel Fierro 134.4 pounds, Eduardo Estela 134.2; Eduardo Nunez 130.6, Martin Ceyca, 128.8; Misael Rodriguez 162.6, Aaron Guerrero 161.2; Alejandro Yung 127.2, Francisco Pina 125.8; Criztec Balzaldua 136.4, Jose Bustamante 135.4.
Former unified cruiserweight titleholder Murat Gassiev (30-1, 23 KOs), 29, of Russia, won his fourth fight in a row since moving up to heavyweight in 2020 by blitzing Mike Balogun (20-1, 16 KOs), 39, a southpaw from Washington, D.C., in a second-round knockout on Friday at Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex in Yerevan, Armenia. Balogun, a former NFL linebacker, was taking a major step up in opposition and couldn’t take it as he was felled by powerful right hand. Balogun got to his knees but was counted out at 1 minute, 41 seconds.
Show and tell
In one of the biggest super middleweight fights in division history, Jeff Lacy traveled to Manchester, England, to face Joe Calzaghe in a much-anticipated IBF/WBO unification bout that Showtime had been building toward. They were a combined 61-0 at the time and Lacy was the clear favorite. But Calzaghe turned in an absolutely masterful performance and tortured the overmatched Lacy, knocking him down in the 12th round to punctuate a shutout ass kicking of the highest order. To many it is the defining victory of Calzaghe’s Hall of Fame career, even though he also beat Mikkel Kessler, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones. Calzaghe-Lacy took place on March 4, 2006 — 17 years ago on Saturday. Here’s a mint site poster in my collection.
More show and tell
The late, great Hall of Famer Pernell Whitaker was the reigning pound-for-pound king and WBC welterweight champion but could not find a real challenge. So, as a one-shot deal, Whitaker tested himself by moving up to junior middleweight to challenge long-reigning WBA titlist Julio Cesar Vasquez. He took Vasquez to school and won a lopsided unanimous decision (118-107, 118-110, 116-110) to claim a world title a fourth division (lightweight and junior welterweight were the others) before returning to welterweight to continue defending his crown. Whitaker-Vasquez took place on March 4, 1995 — 28 years ago on Saturday. Here’s a mint program from the fight in my collection.
Figueroa-Magsayo and Hurd-Resendiz photos: Esther Lin/Showtime; Golovkin photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing; Prograis photo: WBC
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That was a candidate for “Post of the Year” sir! Talk about action packed!! A great read as always. Also, Jake Paul’s “impression” of you needs an entire training camp of its own LOL! Have a great weekend!
The GGG hustle is apparently winding down. Made a lot of money, congrats. Just like in current politics, the grift only gets bigger when you lose. Take note Jake Paul.