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The Mexican boxer Rey Vargas against the Filipino Magsayo in a duel of undefeated

Filipino boxing figure Mark Magsayo will defend his WBC featherweight crown on Saturday against former Mexican world champion Rey Vargas, in a clas


Filipino boxing figure Mark Magsayo will defend his WBC featherweight crown on Saturday against former Mexican world champion Rey Vargas, in a clash of undefeated fighters in the US city of San Antonio (Texas).

Magsayo, with a balance of 24 wins (16 knockouts) and no losses, won the title in January by majority decision over the American Gary Russell Jr.

For his part, Vargas, who has another full 35 wins (22) on his record, aspires to another world title after being the WBC (World Boxing Council) super bantamweight champion.

After a hiatus of more than two years without boxing, the Mexican returned to the ring in November with a unanimous decision victory over his compatriot Leonardo Baez.

That bout against Baez was his debut at featherweight (126 pounds, 57.1 kg) before facing Magsayo’s belt assault on Saturday at the 32,000-capacity Alamodome in San Antonio.

“In November I showed my fighting skills after a long period of inactivity. I wasn’t rusty in the ring then and I won’t be now,” said the 31-year-old Vargas.

“I’m not overconfident, but I know how hard I’ve worked,” he stressed. “I have prepared well for this fight. The hard work is done.”

“We know that (Magsayo) has great power, but we will be prepared to counter that and everything he brings to the ring,” he said. “Magsayo says I haven’t faced anyone like him, but he’s never actually faced anyone like me.”

The 27-year-old Filipino boxer believes Vargas will show up on Saturday with a defensive strategy to fend off his punching power.

“I hope he doesn’t run too much in this fight,” Magsayo said. “If I’m able to get the right distance with him, I’m going to get the knockout.”

“I’m not worried about Vargas,” he stressed. “I’ve already beaten the best in the division, so my confidence is very high heading into this fight.”

San Antonio’s Alamodome holds a special place in Magsayo’s memory as it was the scene of Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao’s win over Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003.

“I am excited to fight in the same place where my idol Manny Pacquiao fought Marco Antonio Barrera,” he acknowledged. “That was the first fight I ever saw and the reason I started boxing.”

Although he grew up learning about ‘Pac-Man’, Magsayo resists being considered as the successor of the Philippine myth.

“There is no ‘next Manny Pacquiao,’ there is only one Manny Pacquiao. My only goal is to make my career as big as I can,” he said. “What I learned from him is that discipline is the most important thing. Without that, you are nothing in this sport.”

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