By: Sean Crose
WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr was set to return to the ring for the first time in almost a year Saturday night. His opponent? The undefeated Mark Magsayo, who had fought his way to a shot at Russell Jr’s title. First, however, there were two undercard bouts broadcast live on Showtime. The first, a 10 rounder at super featherweight saw Sakaria Lukas and Tugstsogt Nyambayar fight to a draw.
The co-main fight was a 12 round junior welterweight rematch between Petops Ananyan, 16-2, and Subriel Matias, 17-1. Ananyan emerged from the first fight victorious by virtue of a unanimous decision. Matias clearly wanted a different result the second time around. The fight was engaged at close range through a good portion of the first. The second round was close, with each man fighting for success on the inside. The fighters continued to exchange shots in the third.
The action slowed a bit in the fourth – though Matias looked to have the edge. The fighters kept engaging in the fifth, then kept up at a furious pace in the sixth. Matias was deducted a point in the seventh. Still, Matias appeared to be in control in the eighth. Ananyan fought with great courage in the ninth. Yet Matias was able to send his man to the canvas before the end of the round. Ananyan got to his feet but looked terrible. The referee stopped the fight in between rounds on the advice of the ring doctor.
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