Mark Magsayo taking tips from Pacquiao in bid vs taller Rey Vargas

Manny Pacquiao and Mark Magsayo

Manny Pacquiao and Mark Magsayo at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing gym. –MARK MAGSAYO INSTAGRAM

MANILA, Philippines—Just like his hero Manny Pacquiao, Mark Magsayo has his own rags-to-riches story to tell.

At eight years old, he sold ice cream in Tagbilaran City to help his parents make ends meet.

But the similarities between Pacquiao and Magsayo don’t end there.

“Mark has been a pleasure to train. He is dedicated to his craft and eager to learn,” said Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who was Pacquiao’s chief cornerman for over two decades, in an interview with Bad Left Hook. “And best of all, he has shown improvement with every fight. I am very proud to be his trainer.

“Both Manny and Mark have great hand speed and an incredible work ethic. They also are never satisfied with giving 100 percent. They dig down deep for that extra effort in training camp, and in a fight, to give themselves an advantage. Both are fierce competitors,” Roach added.

Magsayo’s dedication has paid off with the WBC featherweight title around his waist coupled with an undefeated record of 24-0 with 16 knockouts.

His work, however, is far from done. At 27 years old, Magsayo is just approaching the prime of his career and he has a golden opportunity to reach greater heights when he stakes his belt against former champion Rey Vargas (35-0, 22KOs) on July 9 at Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

“He’s a very good fighter but he has proved he can get hurt a number of times. Importantly, I’m going to have to find a way to negate his massive size advantage,” Magsayo said of Vargas.

Vargas, who has held the WBC belt at super bantamweight, is listed at 5-foot-10 and a half giving him a four-inch height advantage over Magsayo.

But the glaring height disparity doesn’t seem to faze Magsayo especially after he received pointers from his idol.

“I spoke with Pacquiao about this. He is so welcoming and good with his time. He told me the importance of footwork in this fight and being able to close the distance to get into range of Vargas, like he did against Margarito. If I can use good head movement and penetrate with my jab I should get success,” Magsayo said.

“I need to be quick and not let him dominate with his jab, but I also expect him to run for large parts of this fight which I have to be careful of,” added Magsayo, who took up boxing in 2003 after watching Pacquiao’s first fight against Marco Antonio Barrera at Alamodome on television inside a boxing gym.

Magsayo may still have a lot to prove, but he has certainly come a long way having beaten the likes of ex-champions in Julio Ceja and Gary Russell Jr. in his last two bouts.

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