Fight Week: Mark Magsayo to make first title defense against Rey Vargas


Featherweight titleholder Mark Magsayo makes the first defense of his 126-pound title against Rey Vargas on Saturday in San Antonio. Also Saturday, in London, Derek Chisora will take on Kubrat Pulev.

MARK MAGSAYO (24-0, 16 KOS) VS. REY VARGAS (35-0, 22 KOS)

  • When: Saturday, July 9

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

  • Where: Alamodome, San Antonio

  • TV/Stream: Showtime

  • Division: Featherweight (unlimited)

  • Rounds: 12

  • At stake: Magsayo’s WBC title

  • Pound-for-pound ranking: None

  • Odds: Even (average of multiple outlets)

  • Also on the card: Brandon Figueroa vs. Carlos Castro, featherweights; Rashidi Ellis vs. Alberto Palmetta, welterweights

  • Prediction: Joyce KO 5

  • Background: Mark Magsayo upset Gary Russell Jr. by a majority decision to win the WBC featherweight title in January. On Saturday, the Filipino will attempt to prove that break-through victory was no fluke. The protégé of his promoter, Manny Pacquiao, is an improving boxer with elite punching power. He needed the latter against Julio Ceja in the fight that preceded his victory over Russell, as Ceja was winning on all cards when he was stopped in the 10th round. That earned Magsayo a shot at Russell, the long-reigning 126-pound champion who injured (or re-injured) his right shoulder early in the fight. The challenger did enough to win on two cards and walk away with his first major title. He figures to receive a stiff challenge from Vargas, a tall (5-foot-10½), slick boxer-puncher from Mexico. He won the WBC 122-pound title by outpointing Gavin McDonnell in 2017 and made five successful defenses before injuries forced him to step away from the sport between 2019 and last year. He returned as a 126-pounder and easily outpointed Leonardo Baez in his comeback fight, which took place in November. The oddsmakers see this as a 50-50 matchup. Also on the card, Brandon Figueroa (22-1, 17 KOs) will make his debut at 122 pounds against Carlos Castro (27-1, 12 KOs) of Mexico. He lost a disputed decision in a 118-pound title-unification bout with Stephen Fulton in November, his most-recent fight.



  • When: Saturday, July 9

  • Time: 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m.. PT (main event later in show)

  • Where: O2 Arena, London

  • TV/Stream: DAZN

  • Division: Heavyweight (unlimited)

  • Rounds: 12

  • At stake: No major titles

  • Pound-for-pound ranking: None

  • Odds: Pulev 2-1 favorite (average of multiple outlets)

  • Also on the card: Israil Madrimov vs. Michel Soro, junior middleweights

  • Prediction: Pulev UD

  • Background: Chisora, 38, and Pulev, 41, are fighting to remain relevant heavyweights in a rematch of their 2016 bout, which Pulev won by a split decision. Chisora has lost has past three fights by decision, against Oleksandr Usyk and then two meetings with Joseph Parker last year. The last fight took place in December. The Londoner is 7-7 in his last 14 fights. He lost his only title fight, a unanimous decision against then-beltholder Vitali Klitschko in 2012. Pulev lost his only two title fights, a fifth-round knockout against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 and a ninth-round stoppage against Anthony Joshua in 2020. He rebounded from the loss to Joshua by easily outpointing Jerry Forrest in May.



  • Cesar Francis vs. Ray Beltran, junior welterweights, London (ProBox.TV).


  • Roger Gutierrez vs. Hector Garcia, junior lightweights (for Gutierrez’s WBA title), Caracas, Venezuela (no TV in U.S.).


Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie