Highlights and Results: Rey Vargas wins decision over Mark Magsayo

Rey Vargas tonight won a world title in a second weight division, beating Mark Magsayo via split decision in San Antonio to win the WBC featherweight belt.

Official scores were 115-112 twice for Vargas and a map of 114-113 for Magsayo. Both of Bad Left Hook’s unofficial cards were 115-112 in Vargas’ favour.

Vargas (36-0, 22 KO’s) definitely didn’t have the relatively easy fight we’ve seen him in recent 122-pound title defenses, with Magsayo (24-1, 16 KO’s) making him work a lot to get the deserve decision.

But Magsayo also had a hard time with Vargas’ length and movement, even as Vargas put on punches and engaged more than we’ve often seen in the past. On paper, this would have given Magsayo a better chance and it was perhaps the biggest thing that kept him alive until the end of the fight.

Magsayo scored a knockdown in round nine, a clean right-hand shot that Vargas ran to throw a punch of his own, which he had done a number of times. But Magsayo, who usually stabs well, hasn’t or couldn’t use that punch nearly as often as he usually prefers and there were rounds where Vargas just had his will and built up a good momentum in rounds three through eight especially.

Magsayo also appeared to have a decent shot late on but may have dropped the 11th and 12th rounds to seal the win for Vargas.

“This is my second world title, this one goes back to Mexico,” Vargas said after the fight. He admitted Magsayo “caught” him with the knockdown, but said: “I was in control of the whole fight (aside from that), he got me there and I lost control a little bit.”

When asked what he would do next, Vargas replied, “Either a union or Leo Santa Cruz.” Santa Cruz want be a unification since Santa Cruz ridiculously still holds the WBA featherweight title. At some point he will also have a WBC order to fight Brandon Figueroa.

“It was his day, he was the man of today. I will come back stronger. I’m a bit disappointed but I did my best,” said Magsayo. “He did his job in the ring, ran, so that’s fine. He was bigger and he is the man of today.”

Vargas came over to congratulate Magsayo and trainer Freddie Roach and Magsayo said he will watch the fight and go back to the gym to come back.

Brandon Figueroa TKO-6 Carlos Castro

Some discussion of the stoppage here, partly because Castro was easy to see he’d won four of the first five rounds despite falling in the third, and partly because it looked like referee Mark Nelson was immediate stepping in got the chance when Figueroa (23-1-1, 18 KOs) turned Castro (27-2, 12 KOs) against the ropes and started throwing shots.

But replays showed Castro definitely took some really clean ones, and Nelson said he saw Castro’s eyes blur. Referees are there, I’m not and nobody else either. What’s more, Castro did not complain about the interruption. If you’re going with nothing else, go for this is my general advice.

Figueroa, 25, wins a WBC featherweight eliminator here, so he’s up for a title shot now, and it would be a good matchup, better than many world title fights, even if Figueroa-Castro should never have been an eliminator at 126 , as both were losing at 122.

It was also an entertaining fight. It’s always fun to watch Figueroa, he’s very flawed but also very tough, doesn’t get discouraged easily and picks the right spots to apply big pressure. That’s what got him through here because I don’t think it’s at all unfair to say that the 28-year-old Castro was clearly the better pure boxer and had a lot of success. I had him up 48-46 after five rounds, Wil had the same, Showtime’s Steve Farhood had the same.

So yes, Figueroa will always be prone to getting out of the box, but the opponent must also be able to weather their storms because they will bring them.

“Carlos Castro is a great fighter,” said Figueroa. “I know he’s a skilled fighter, I had to be patient. I had to push. I got a bit tired (after the third) but I knew he was injured (in the sixth) and I had him so I had to push.”

Frank Martin TKO-10 Jackson Marinez

This was a short-term fight as Marinez came in just over a week in advance to replace Ricardo Nunez, allowing Martin a catch weight of 138lbs to make the fight possible. Boxing fans won this because Marinez (19-3, 7 KOs) gave Martin (16-0, 12 KOs) a far better fight than I think anyone expected Nunez to have.

We said it many times during the fight, but if Marinez got that with the right notification it might have been even better. But we got what we got and we saw Marinez perform really well again but lose again. It’s the third fight in a row he’s lost and the second in a row that he hasn’t been absolutely challenged and still I think Marinez is a good tricky opponent for a lot of guys 135.

But Martin made it. He had some frustrating rounds in the middle with Marinez, but getting his right hook late got things under control.

Martin is 27 so he really isn’t that “prospect age” and he’s never been super hyped as a blue chipper but the skills he has are the type of guy who if he really maximizes them, yes, he’s a very dangerous fighter. I would perhaps envision him as something of an unconscripted free agent who really turns out can play in the NBA, like a Fred VanVleet, or, I don’t know, choose your favorite example. VanVleet comes to mind. And however you get to the top, it’s all about getting there. Not every top NBA player was a top draft pick, not every top boxer was a super-hyped amateur by age 13 or whatever.

Bottom line, Martin can fight, and he says he “wants them all” and is looking for a big fight next at 135. Hopefully he gets another good step up. That was a solid test and it passed.

Highlights and results of the preliminary round

  • Ramon Cardenas UD-10 Michell Banquez (96-94, 97-93, 97-93)
  • Rashidi Ellis TKO-1 Jose Marrufo

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