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Mark Magsayo yields WBC featherweight title to Rey Vargas

Rey Vargas lands a left punch to Mark Magsayo's body. PBC
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Mark Magsayo fell in his first defense of the WBC featherweight title, losing a split decision to Mexican opponent Rey Vargas on Sunday (Philippine Time) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

A knockdown in the ninth round hardly mattered at least for two of the judges as Vargas' height and reach advantage proved tough for Magsayo in the battle between unbeaten pugilists.

Magsayo, though, began the bout on a high note, tagging Vargas with his trademark right-handed shots.

However, Vargas frustrated Magsayo with his jabs during the next rounds, and the erstwhile champ could not take advantage of a cut at the challenger's left eye side, which video replays confirmed to be coming from an accidental headbutt.

A potential game-turning point happened with 40 seconds left in Round 9 when Magsayo landed a right hook that floored Vargas for only the fourth time in his career.

Vargas remained wobbled until Round 10 especially when Magsayo began looking for the knockout blow, but the former bounced back mightily in Round 11 to basically seal his win.

Jesse Reyes thought the knockdown decided the contest and gave Magsayo a 114-113 win, but Tim Cheatham and David Sutherland both saw Vargas as the better well-rounded boxer and gave him similar 115-112 wins.

Vargas keeps his record perfect with his 36th consecutive professional boxing win in as many bouts, while Magsayo lost for the first time after 24 straight wins to begin his career.

Magsayo's defeat leaves the Philippines without an active world champion at the moment, but the country can have another boxing champ again if Donnie Nietes beats Kazuto Ioka for the WBO junior bantamweight title in Tokyo on Wednesday night.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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