Mark Magsayo intends to silence those who doubt him

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Is Mark Magsayo the genuine article? Or has luck been his greatest asset?

The hard-punching protégé of Manny Pacquiao is coming off a majority-decision victory over long-reigning WBC 126-pound champ Gary Russell Jr. in January that gave him his first major world title.

Now he must prove it wasn’t a fluke.

After all, Russell, a southpaw, was a one-handed fighter from the fourth round on after injuring (or re-injuring) his right shoulder yet lost a close decision. Some believe Magsayo was fortunate to have his hand raised afterward.

His reaction to that notion? He said he doesn’t care what others think and suggested that a two-handed, more aggressive Russell might’ve been stopped.

“If that shoulder is not hurt, maybe there’s a knockout there,” he said. “My counter was very effective that fight. … My counter and my speed and my power was very effective. And that time that he got hurt he was always running.

“It’s hard to catch him when your opponent is running and is a good fighter.”

Still, Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) must do more before he will be considered one of the best in the business.

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s longtime mentor, loves training Magsayo because of his work ethic. He reminds Roach of Pacquiao in that respect. And the 27-year-old has plenty of power, which he has shown repeatedly in his decade-long career.

He has room to grow, though. That was clear in the fight that preceded the showdown with Russell, a 10th-round knockout victory over clever Julio Ceja last August. Magsayo was down on all three cards at the time of the stoppage.

Of course, Magsayo deserves full credit for getting the job done in spectacular fashion. It was no accident. At the same time, the fact Ceja was leading 87-82, 86-83 and 86-83 might be a red flag.

Roach suggests that you give Magsayo time.

“They have the same work ethic. They just love to train hard,” Roach said when asked to reveal similarities and differences between Pacquiao and Magsayo. “… I’d say he’s 20% better than he was two months ago. He’s never satisfied.”

But …

“Mark is still learning and gaining world championship experience,” Roach added. “I’d say experience may be the biggest difference right now.”

Maybe Magsayo will put it all together against Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs), a tall, rangy former 122-pound champion from Mexico and a legitimate threat to beat him. The oddsmakers say the fight is a tossup.

“Mark knows he’s in tough,” Roach said.

If Magsayo wins this fight, his critics will have a lot less to talk about.

“A lot of people doubt my talent, my skills,” he said. “… They say, ‘You beat the one-handed guy.’ That’s what people say. Doubters are there always. I don’t care. … (But) I do want to prove that I’m a good fighter, the best fighter in this division,

“That’s why I work hard every time in the gym. I’m ready for this coming fight.”

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