ONTARIO, Calif. — Mark Magsayo was bruises but defiant after his loss to Brandon Figueroa at the Toyota Arena, insisting that the judging and refereeing were unfair and cost him a fight he would have otherwise won.
The 27-year-old from Tagbilaran City, Philippines said the three scorecards that showed him losing ten rounds on one card and nine on the other two were not fair, as was the officiating from Thomas Taylor, who deducted him two points total in the eighth and eleventh rounds for holding.
“I felt like the referee is one-sided,” said Magsayo (24-2, 16 knockouts) afterwards in the dressing room.
“I feel like if there were no deductions I’m gonna win the fight. I hit him with solid punches, he felt them and he was hurt.”
Taylor told this reporter after the fight that he felt that holding was a fair part of defense and that both were holding, but that Figueroa would let go when he ordered them to break but Magsayo would not, which led to the deductions.
Magsayo says that he was never warned explicitly by Taylor, and questioned why he was deducted a point in the eleventh round when both fighters were holding with one arm and hitting with the other in close.
“I was thinking they would score it 114-114, with the points 115-113, but why even fight after the fifth round if you’re gonna score f—king 4 to 12, every single round? Why even make 126 pounds?,” asked an incredulous Sean Gibbons, President of MP Promotions, which promotes Magsayo.
Gibbons questioned why one of the judges were changed on fight week, showing reporters a text message purportedly from Andy Foster, executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, which shows Rudy Barragan among the three judges who would score the fight. Barragan was replaced by Fernando Villarreal.
The three judges were mostly in agreement with one another, scoring two of the first three rounds for Magsayo, before judge Zachary Young scored the final nine rounds in favor of Figueroa. The other two judges, Gary Ritter and Villarreal, gave Magsayo the eighth, but that round became even because of a deduction for holding.
Punch stat numbers were more or less even, with Magsayo being given credit for landing 179 out of 593 attempts for a 30 percent connect rate, while Figueroa landed 176 of 653 attempts for a 27 percent connect rate. Neither fighter made much use of the jab, with Magsayo having a slight 19 to 15 edge in landed jabs.
“I was thinking they would score it 114-114, with the points 115-113, but why even fight after the fifth round if you’re gonna score f–king 4 to 12, every single round. Why even make 126 pounds?,” said Gibbons.
Magsayo said afterward that he planned to move up to 130 pounds after fighting for the entirety of his career at featherweight since turning pro in 2013 at age 17. Magsayo had struggled mightily to make weight for the Figueroa fight, weighing in nearly a pound over the limit on his first attempt to make weight on Friday, before taking the full two hours to cut the final ounces to make weight.
Weight issues, plus Figueroa’s constant pressure and body punching, could explain why Magsayo faded during the second half of the fight, most prominently in the tenth round, when he went to the canvas twice without being hit.
“He was feeling like moving up to 130 before this opportunity came up. We were going up to 130 but then the Figueroa fight came and he says for this type of fight I’m gonna make it. It wasn’t easy, he got there but it took something out of him,” said Gibbons.
Brandon Figueroa and Mark Magsayo show respect to one another after the fight. “Fight of the Year!” Magsayo exclaims. #FigueroaMagsayo pic.twitter.com/X3M1qYwlKV
— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) March 5, 2023
Magsayo didn’t give a post-fight interview in the ring to Showtime Championship Boxing, but showed respect to the Figueroa camp in the dressing room, posing for photos with Brandon Figueroa, plus his sister Omayra and Judith.
The loss is the second straight for Magsayo, who had won the WBC featherweight title last January with a majority decision win over Gary Russell Jr. before losing the title to Rey Vargas last July by split decision.
Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].