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Watson’s Winners and Losers of the boxing week (Jan. 25, 2022)

Mark Magsayo was definitely the week’s biggest winner, but there was more going on in the sport this past week.

Mark Magsayo was undeniably a big winner for the week in boxing
Mark Magsayo was undeniably a big winner for the week in boxing
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Despite the slow turning of the boxing wheel in January, there was still enough action inside and outside of the ring to get our gnashers stuck into.

But who won and lost the boxing week?

WINNERS

Mark Magsayo

The credibility of this column’s debut would be shot to pieces if Mark Magsayo didn’t get an early shoutout. The Filipino may not have dazzled or delighted in his upset of defending featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr., but turning ≈3/1 (+275) odds on their head via majority decision stretched his unbeaten record to 24-0, breaking out in the division.

Magsayo countered well with his right – in patches – against an injured champion that relied heavily on his left hand. It certainly wasn’t a dominant display by the 26-year-old, getting caught when Russell doubled up on his lefts, but pressure and output told in the end, banking early rounds with some eye-catching body work.

“It was a little bit of an advantage for me, with him using only one hand,” Magsayo explained post-fight in one of the understatements of 2022 so far. In all honesty, Magsayo should have rubber-stamped his victory down the stretch, but instead, allowed Russell back into the contest as the scorecards reflected.

Still, becoming a world champion – and dethroning the longest serving champion in the sport – shouldn’t be underestimated. Manny Pacquiao welcomed the new WBC king to the “club” post-fight, as he joins Nonito Donaire, John Riel Casimero, Jerwin Ancajas and Rene Mark Cuarto as Filipino titlists.

Johnny Fisher

The “Romford Bull” Johnny Fisher ended 2021 by signing a new multi-year contract with Matchroom Boxing, and has started 2022 by repaying this faith Eddie Hearn et. al. showed in him by phenomenal ticket sales ahead of his next outing.

The 22-year-old heavyweight fights on the Daniel Jacobs vs John Ryder undercard on February 12. and has shifted close to 2,000 (!!) tickets independently over the past couple of weeks.

The #RomfordBullArmy are expected to be in fine voice in north London as the four-fight novice looks to continue building his foundations in the sport – whether he’s to follow in either the footsteps of two other great British ticket sellers Josh Warrington and Dave Allen, will becoming apparent over the next few years.

Audley Harrison

If you’ve logged into Twitter over the past few days, then it’s highly likely you’ve stumbled across one of Audley Harrison’s recent gems.

Harrison – gold medalist at the 2000 Athens Olympics and former European heavyweight champion – was dishing out heat to anyone and everyone across the social media platform, with the likes of Frank Warren and Carl Froch getting some focus, alongside a ‘roast’ of anyone who dared reply.

“A-Force” has been out of the spotlight for years since retiring – returning to our screens in 2019 as he aided his former foe David Haye in a poker tournament – and it’s unclear at the moment if this recent Twitter tirade is part of a bigger plan in returning to the sport in some form.

Either way, I’m here for Audley’s shithousery. The 50-year-old was undeservedly the butt of the British boxing joke for far too long in his prime, despite paving the way for future Olympic funding and the successes of Amir Khan and Anthony Joshua, to name two. It’s nice to see him finally landing some counters.

LOSERS

The WBA

I refuse to commit permanent slots in the WINNERS or LOSERS section each week, but the WBA are an early front-runner to have repeat outings in the latter.

After release of the WBA’s ridiculous heavyweight rankings at the start of the year – including Michael Hunter, Robert Helenius and Hughie Fury all listed above Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder – news broke this week that WBA “regular” heavyweight champion Trevor Bryan will defend his title against Jonathan Guidry on January 29.

That’s #13 ranked Jonathan Guidry, by the way, who has somehow found his way into the top 15 of the WBA rankings despite not fighting since August and never contesting a bout over eight rounds.

The same Jonathan Guidry who’s last win came against a 46-year-old 20-20-2 Rodney Moore.

The SAME Jonathan Guidry who is promoted by Don King, who claims that Guidry was given the nod due to him already confirmed for the January 29. card against different opposition, before Manuel Charr’s pull out left a spot free at the top of the bill.

Seeing really is believing at the moment with the WBA.

Mairis Briedis

It’s painful to see Briedis’ name in this section – a fighter who has consistently delivered inside the ring at the highest level – but it’s pretty hard to defend the cruiserweight champion after his attempts to goad Jake Paul continue.

The Latvian has doubled down on his pursuit of a multi-million pound pay-day with the YouTuber, posting a video on Monday singing happy birthday to the 5-0 “Problem Child” (also, with a Christmas tree still up in the background!)

I’m no Jake Paul hater. But believe me, I’m no Jake Paul lover. I think it’s reasonably interesting as a sort of science experiment to see what happens if you throw the best facilities, best nutrition, best sparring partners and best team around a young, athletic dude – after all, there’s no reason why in 2022 all boxers have to be born into poverty and fight their way off the streets in Rocky-style.

Anyway, back to Briedis. At 36, he should be putting all his energy into the other champions of the division – a la Lawrence Okolie – or fuck it, move up to heavyweight if you want a quick sugar-rush pay-day.

Team Tony Yoka

Despite being on the verge of his 30th birthday, French heavyweight Tony Yoka will yet again be forced to tread water in the early parts of the year.

His provisional world title fight against Filip Hrgovic is officially in the bin following a dispute from original, less inspired opponent Martin Bakole, with Hrgovic now forced to scour the IBF rankings for a replacement.

“Now I am making up for lost time,” Yoka told me last March. “Joseph Parker and Filip Hrgovic are two I’d like to fight – both of whom I’ve previously beaten in the amateurs. I’m ready now to make my move in the division.”

This “move” is on ice until he can navigate past the 28-year-old Congolese fighting out of Scotland — both contractually and physically.

Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles