Rey Vargas is champion again and still undefeated.
The former WBC junior featherweight champion, fighting for only the second time in three years, prevailed through a late knockdown to defeat WBC featherweight champion Mark Magsayo by a split Saturday in San Antonio, Texas decision to dethrone.
“I have no words to describe what happened here tonight,” Vargas said through an interpreter. “This is my second title. This one goes back to Mexico.”
After a vicious start at the Alamodome, with both men unleashing powerful punches and hitting each other with a high percentage, the 5ft-10 Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs) took control of the fight by utilizing his longer reach to keep the distance and pepper Magsayo with jabs and left hooks as the Filipino fighter advanced.
Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs) went wide at times, but hit his target several times during the 12 rounds with big shots, especially late in the ninth when he dropped Vargas with a counter right hand. The 31-year-old Mexican appeared to be on rubbery legs for the remainder of that round and much of Round 10, but after that his jab and footwork kept him at a distance from Magsayo, who failed to aggressively capitalize on his opponent’s injury to beat .
Two of the referees saw the fight score 115-112 for Vargas, while the third scored it 114-113 for Magsayo.
“I worked hard for this,” Vargas said. “I want to thank God, my family, [trainer] Nacho [Ignacio Beristain]. I really enjoyed the first title I won, but this one is special. This win is for me.”
Vargas had given up his 122-pound belt in 2020 — not in a ring, but because of his inactivity. As a champion a division up, he’s eager to get back in the ring and after the fight says he wants a unification bout, preferably against WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz.
Magsayo entered the fight with a high ambition in boxing. The 27-year-old from the Philippines is a protégé of legendary compatriot Manny Pacquiao and is being hailed as the next ‘Pacman’. Magsayo became champion in January by ending Gary Russell Jr.’s seven-year reign.
“I will rest and watch the fight and I will train to fight again and will correct my mistakes for next time,” Magsayo said after the fight.
In the co-main event, former WBC super bantamweight champion Brandon Figueroa brought himself into the conversation to challenge Vargas by TKOing Carlos Castro in the sixth round in a featherweight title eliminator.