Gary Russell Jr. and Mark Magsayo
WBC Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr. and WBC’s leading contender and mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo previewed their world title bout during Tuesday’s virtual press conference before they made the headlines live on SHOWTIME Saturday, Dec. January 22 during a Premier Boxing Champions event from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, NJ
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® TV show kicks off at 9pm ET / 6pm Pacific Time and will see ultralightweight rivals Subriel Matías and Petros Ananyan meet for a rematch in the competition. The co-main event lasted 12 rounds, while heavy featherweight opponents Tugstsogt “Turgator King” Nyambayar and Vic Pasillas won the show’s 10-round showdown.
Ticket for the live event, promoted by TGB Promotions, is currently on sale and can be purchased via Ticketmaster.com.
Russell, who has the longest reign of any current men’s champion and has held the 126-pound belt since 2015, will seek a sixth consecutive title defense on January 22, when he faced off against Filipino powerhouse puncher Magsayo, who was coached by Freddie Roach and appeared in the Knockout of the year tournament against former champion Julio Ceja last August.
Here’s what the fighters had to say on Tuesday:
GARY RUSSELL JR.
“I use everything that is happening to me outside the ring for fuel. It was difficult dealing with the passing of my brother and my father’s health problems. I always tell people that life is like boxing. You have to bend down and raise your hand. I am grateful that I am mentally strong when it comes to things like this. This is what champions do, we overcome adversity.
“I am ready to compete with anyone, whenever and wherever. But I can’t force these guys into the ring and fight me. I just need to prepare to the best of my ability. I need a dance partner.
“I see him as a good even hand puncher, maybe he leans a bit more to the right. He has good punching power, but none of that matters if you can’t hit your target.
“We are training in the training camp. No problem, we won’t make any excuses or complaints.
“If I’m going to gain weight, I want to fight a champion. I don’t intend to gain weight just to stand in line. I’m fighting Magsayo because he got promoted and won the spot. Everyone I’ve played against is the next best of the champion.
“I don’t have any concerns with Magsayo’s power. You very rarely see me having to go back on the scorecard. Magsayo had to come back in his last match because he lost on the cards. That shows some holes in his armor.
“I never ignore anyone. Of course I want the fight with Gervonta Davis. But I’m focusing on Magsayo. He’s the one who put the effort into this position against me. Davis isn’t in a hurry, so I’ll continue to focus on a real fighter coming into the ring with me.
“I am in the gym. Boxing is not just what I do, it’s a lifestyle for me. Even after I finished and finished my career, I would still go to the gym. I never really exploded and gained weight. I love what I do and I am very aggressive in my thinking.
“No one could really prepare me. You cannot prepare as you think you can. I knew Magsayo would be at his best physically and mentally. I take my hat off to him, because he’s willing to put it first to prove himself the best. I wish the other boxers would take the same risk.
“A lot of the others weren’t willing to step in there with me because of the skill set that I brought. Finally, we have another warrior with a fighting heart. I want him to bring his best, so we’ll see who’s the best.”
“I am very grateful to my entire team for making this fight happen. I’ve been training for three and a half months now, so I’ll prepare thoroughly for this match.
“I don’t think Gary has faced anyone since he became the champion of the skill that I have. I’m going in there to show him something he’s never seen before and we’ll see how he reacts.
“I learned a lot from the fight with Ceja. That gave me a lesson in mid-game adjustments. It will help me fight Russell.
“I respect Gary Russell Jr., he is a great champion, but I will win this fight on January 22. I want to prove to people everywhere that I am a featherweight fighter. The best in the world.
“I will show the world that I am the best at this weight. This is the fight I’ve been wanting for a long time. I have been patiently waiting for my chance and I am ready to do my best.
“I had great partners to prepare me for Russell and give me the look he would give me in teamfights. This is my first world championship match and I will give it my all.
“I am not trying to be the next Manny Pacquiao, but I am trying to make my mark on the history of the sport and for all Filipinos. I aspire to prove it all in the ring.
“I will become a stronger fighter against Russell. We practiced every day with Freddie Roach and we studied a lot of the different techniques we were going to use in this fight.
“I know he’s going to show his talent, but I’m going to show everyone that I can put up a great fight and be the champion.”