SAN ANTONIO – Mark Magsayo shook his head and pounded his chest as he stood face to face with a significantly taller Rey Vargas on Friday afternoon.
Magsayo promised to make much more of a statement Saturday night, when they’ll fight for Magsayo’s WBC featherweight title. The 12-round, 126-pound championship bout between the Philippines’ Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) and Mexico’s Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs) will headline Showtime’s three-bout broadcast from Alamodome (9 p.m. ET).
The 27-year-old Magsayo, who will defend his title for the first time, and the 31-year-old Vargas, the WBC’s mandatory challenger for Magsayo’s championship, weighed exactly the same, 125½ pounds, when they stepped on the Texas commission’s scale at Thompson San Antonio-Riverwalk hotel.
Magsayo won his title when he upset boxing’s longest-reigning champion, Gary Russell Jr., by majority decision in their 12-rounder January 22 at Borgata Event Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Vargas is a former WBC 122-pound champion who defeated Mexico’s Leonardo Baez (21-5, 12 KOs) in his featherweight debut November 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Moments earlier Friday, Brandon Figueroa and Carlos Castro made weight for their 12-round WBC featherweight elimination match.
Figueroa, of Weslaco, Texas, weighed exactly 126 pounds for his debut at the featherweight limit of 126. Phoenix’s Castro was significantly lighter, 124½ pounds, than Figueroa.
Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs) and Castro (27-1, 12 KOs) both will attempt to bounce back from their first professional defeats in the co-feature of Showtime’s tripleheader.
Philadelphia’s Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) defeated Figueroa by majority decision in their fantastic “Fight of the Year” candidate seven months ago. Fulton retained his WBO junior featherweight title and took the WBC super bantamweight championship from Figueroa on November 27 at Park MGM’s Dolby Live in Las Vegas.
Former WBC 122-pound champ Luis Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) dropped Castro in the first round and beat him by split decision in their 10-rounder February 5 at Mandalay Bay’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
Just before Figueroa and Castro came in on weight, Frank Martin and Jackson Marinez met their contractual obligations for a 10-round junior welterweight fight that’ll open Showtime’s telecast at 9 p.m. ET.
Martin (15-0, 11 KOs), a southpaw from Indianapolis, officially weighed 137½ pounds. Marinez (19-2, 7 KOs), of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, stepped on the scale at 138 pounds.
Marinez replaced Ricardo Nunez (23-3, 21 KOs), Martin’s original opponent, on only eight days’ notice. Marinez hasn’t fought in nearly 17 months, thus the weight limit for his fight with Martin was raised to 138 pounds to accommodate Marinez for taking this fight on such short notice.
The contract weight for Martin’s fight with Nunez was 135 pounds, the lightweight limit. Panama’s Nunez reportedly had difficulty obtaining a visa to enter the United States for his fight with Martin.
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7 p.m. ET; 4 p.m. PT
Ramon Cardenas (20-1, 10 KOs), San Antonio, 118 pounds vs. Michell Banquez (20-1, 14 KOs), Caracas, Venezuela, 117½ pounds, 10 rounds, bantamweights.
Rashidi Ellis (23-0, 14 KOs), Lynn, Massachusetts, 153½ pounds vs. Jose Marrufo (13-10-2, 1 KO), Phoenix, 146¼ pounds, 8 rounds, junior middleweights.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.