Buried in the hoopla that came with Manny Pacquiao’s unexpected loss was a bright spot for Philippine boxing that night in Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo, who rallied in the last quarter of the fight to stop Julio Ceja in the 10th round.
The bout which served as the chief undercard for the Pacquiao-Ugas main event was the eliminator for the WBC featherweight crown.
MATCHUP. A former world champion who has fought some of the elite in lower weight divisions, Ceja is your typical tough Mexican hombre who marches forward and likes to pressure opponents.
Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOs) isn’t exactly a novice, but he’s no veteran either at 26 years old. He’s faced his share of world beaters and has come a long way since his ALA boxing days, but Ceja (32-5, 28KOS) was his most formidable opponent to date.
THE FIGHT. Magsayo started fast. So fast indeed that 30 seconds in, he dropped Ceja with a sneaky left hook. Ceja got up momentarily shaken and Magsayo tried to finish matters, but the former was able to regain his composure.
Ceja came on strong in the 2nd and 3rd rounds as he shifted gears to a brutal assault on Magsayo’s body.
Magsayo backed up and tried to box and would land jabs and right hands, but Ceja slowly but surely took over the fight.
That relentless body attack culminated in a knockdown just before the bell rang in the 5th. Magsayo trooped back to his corner looking sapped and beaten.
He tried to fight back in the 6th, but Ceja would not be deterred and never missed a beat in digging to Magsayo’s body and bullying him on the inside.
Ceja still controlled the action in the 7th and 8th rounds, but luckily for Magsayo he found his second wind.
He landed several jabs and right hands in the ninth that rocked Ceja and capped that furious rally by knocking out Ceja in the 10th.
The denouement of the bout was quick and violent. He caught Ceja with a straight right hand as he sagged along the ropes, and as the latter was on his way down caught him on the chin again.
Ceja was out for several minutes and there was some concern in his corner, but thankfully he was able to recover and get up from that brutal knockout.
Magsayo isn’t Philippine boxing’s best-kept secret. He has been around and has been biding his time. Now that he has hooked up with Pacquiao’s production team, he seems to have made the right moves at the right time.
No better timing to show your wares by dishing out a gutsy, comeback victory on the same night the whole world saw how Pacquiao ‘s fighting prowess has been diminished by Father Time.
He’s no Pacman in terms of skill and talent, but there’s no denying that Magsayo lived up to his moniker and was truly magnificent on this night.
VERBATIM. “In my entire career, Ugas was one of the easiest opponents.”--Manny Pacquiao in an interview with The Athletic
LAST ROUND. It’s on Gilbert Teves, who celebrates his birthday this week. Cheers!