Fight Week: Gary Russell Jr. to return to ring after two years against Mark Magsayo

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FIGHT WEEK

Long-reigning featherweight titleholder Gary Russell Jr. will make his sixth defense against unbeaten Mark Magsayo Saturday on Showtime.

Gary Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs) vs. Mark Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOs)

  • When: Saturday, Jan. 15

  • Time: 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT (main event later in show)

  • Where: Borgata Hotel Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey

  • TV/Stream: Showtime

  • Division: Featherweight

  • At stake: Russell’s WBC title

  • Pound-for-pound ranking: None

  • Odds: Russell 3-1 (average of multiple outlets)

  • Also on the card: Subriel Matias vs. Petros Ananyan, junior welterweights; Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs. Vic Pasillas, featherweights

  • Prediction: Russell UD

  • Background: Russell doesn’t fight often but dominates when he does. The long-reigning 126-pound titleholder has fought a total of five times since he stopped Jhonny Gonzalez to win this world title in March 2015, including no bouts last year. The quick-handed veteran is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over previously unbeaten Tugstsogt Nyambayar in February 2020, meaning he will have been out of the ring for almost two years. Russell, 33, will be making the sixth defense of his title. Magsayo, 26, will be fighting for a world belt for the first time. The Freddie Roach-trained protégé of Manny Pacquiao is quick and powerful but is taking a significant step up in opposition in his first shot at a major title. Magsayo is coming off a spectacular knockout of Julio Ceja this past August. He was behind on all three cards when he landed a straight right hand that rendered Ceja unconscious. This will be Magsayo’s fourth consecutive fight in the United States.