Weights: Mark Magsayo 125.5 vs. Rey Vargas 125.5
Brandon Figueroa 126 vs. Carlos Castro 124.5
Frank Martin 137.5 vs. Jackson Marinez 138
Ramon Cardenas 118.25 vs. Michell Banquez 117.5
Rashidi Ellis 153.5 vs. Jose Marrufo 146.25
WBC Featherweight World Champion Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo will take on former world champion Rey Vargas in a battle of unbeatens that headlines action live on SHOWTIME Saturday, July 9 from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will feature hard-hitting former world champion Brandon “The Heartbreaker” Figueroa taking on Carlos Castro in a WBC Featherweight Title Eliminator in the co-main event, plus the Derrick James-trained, unbeaten lightweight contender Frank Martin battles Panama’s power-punching Ricardo Núñez in the 10-round telecast opener.
“Saturday, July 9 will be topped by a showdown between champions as the Philippines’ Mark Magsayo makes his first title defense against the unbeaten Mexican, Rey Vargas, who will be looking to become a two-division champion at Alamodome on July 9 in San Antonio,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “This card will also see the return of one of the sport’s most exciting young stars, as all-action Brandon Figueroa steps back into the ring looking to make his mark in the featherweight division, beginning with a world title eliminator against the always tough Carlos Castro. Kicking off the action will be the highly-skilled rising lightweight contender, Frank Martin, in a tough test against the hard-hitting Ricardo Núñez.”
Additional coverage will include a pair of bouts streamed live on the SHOWTIME SPORTS YouTube channel beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The action will see unbeaten welterweight contender Rashidi Ellis facing Argentine Olympian Alberto Palmetta in a 10-round duel, plus San Antonio’s own Ramon Cardenas battling Venezuela’s Michell Banquez in a 10-round bantamweight attraction.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and are available through Ticketmaster.com. The Martin vs. Núñez bout is promoted in association with Man Down Promotions.
The Filipino sensation Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) fights out of Pasig City, Metro Manila by way of Los Angeles, Calif., and became the latest champion from the boxing-rich nation in January when he outpointed longtime champion Gary Russell Jr. to capture the 126-pound title on SHOWTIME. The 26-year-old earned the opportunity by knocking out former champion Julio Ceja in the 10th round of a fight he trailed on the scorecards in August 2021. Magsayo is trained by Freddie Roach in Southern California and owns 12-round decision victories over Shoto Hayashi and Ramiro Robles, in addition to a sixth-round stoppage of former title challenger Chris Avalos.
“I am very thankful to my team for giving me the opportunity to defend my title in San Antonio,” said Magsayo. “I’m excited to be fighting in the same venue where my idol Manny Pacquiao fought Marco Antonio Barrera. That was the first fight I ever saw and the reason I started boxing. We are preparing for a strong Mexican fighter in Rey Vargas. Everyone knows what the Philippines vs. Mexico boxing rivalry brings to the ring and I’m excited to display my talents for the boxing fans in Texas and watching around the world.”
The former WBC 122-pound world champion, Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs), returned from a layoff due to injury to score a near shutout decision victory over Leonardo Baez in his featherweight debut in November 2021 on the undercard of Canelo vs. Plant. The 31-year-old went on the road to the U.K. to capture his title in 2017, winning a decision over previously unbeaten Gavin McDonnell. A native of Mexico City, Vargas made five successful defenses of his title, defeating top contenders Oscar Negrete, Ronny Rios and Azat Hovhannisyan. His fifth successful title defense came via unanimous decision over former world champion Tomoki Kameda in July 2019.
“This fight on July 9 will be a great battle against the Filipino warrior Mark Magsayo,” said Vargas, who trains under the tutelage of Hall of Fame trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristáin. “This is going to be exciting combat from start to finish. We know that he has great power, but we’ll be ready to counter that, and anything else he brings to the ring. This is going to be a magnificent fight and I can’t wait to step in there and compete.”
The 25-year-old Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs) will debut at 126 pounds after dropping a 2021 Fight of the Year contender against Stephen Fulton Jr. in November on SHOWTIME, in which the two champions traded blows for 12 grueling rounds, eventually leading to what some observers thought was a controversial majority decision loss. Figueroa used his youth and relentless pressure to become the first person to defeat Luis Nery in their championship clash on SHOWTIME prior to the Fulton fight. A native of Weslaco, Texas, who has previously fought in San Antonio six times, Figueroa added to his family’s legacy by capturing the world title, joining his brother Omar Figueroa, who previously held the lightweight world championship.
“I’ve been waiting to get back in the ring to do what I love,” said Figueroa. “Carlos Castro is a great fighter and we both have to prove why we belong at the top of the 126-pound division. I can’t wait to fight in San Antonio in front of my fans, it’s really one of my favorite places to compete and I’m planning on giving everyone who comes out a great show like always.”
Castro (27-1, 12 KOs) was born in Sonora, Mexico and came to the U.S. as a child. Now living in Phoenix, Ariz., Castro most recently dropped a narrow split-decision against two-division champion Luis Nery in February, with one point on the cards ultimately holding Castro back from keeping his unbeaten record intact. The 28-year-old made his name as a 122-pound contender, but has also competed at featherweight, including a 10th round TKO victory over veteran contender Oscar Escandon in August 2021.
“I’m thrilled to be back in the ring,” said Castro. “I have some real business to handle against Figueroa on July 9. There’s no better fight for me to show that I’m back. I’m ready to show that I’m capable of being in the mix at the top of the division and to earn a shot at the title.”
The 27-year-old Martin (15-0, 11 KOs) rose up the lightweight rankings in 2021 with a pair of impressive victories before most recently delivering a New Year’s Day KO over Romero Duno. In 2021, Martin knocked out the previously unbeaten Jerry Perez in a dominating performance in April, before earning a unanimous decision over Ryan Kielczweski in August. Originally from Indianapolis, Ind., Martin now trains in the Dallas-area under the guidance of top trainer James alongside unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.
“I’ve been training hard in Dallas and I’m just excited and ready to go,” said Martin. “Núñez is a boxer-puncher, so I expect him to mix it up with some fast combinations and to try and throw my movement off, but I’ll be ready for all of that. Fight fans are going to enjoy an action fight with this one. We’ve got the speed, power and athleticism to put on an exciting show on July 9.”
Representing La Chorrera, Panama, Núñez (23-3, 21 KOs) enters this fight with knockout victories in his last two fights, including most recently stopping Richard Solano in the first round in October 2021. The 28-year-old moved back up to lightweight for those two victories after challenging three-division champion Gervonta Davis in July 2019 for a 130-pound title. Núñez has fought professionally since 2010 and has a brother also named Ricardo who is a veteran pro fighter in the featherweight division.
“I’m very happy to be back in a big fight on July 9,” said Núñez. “You’re going to see a whole new fighter against Martin. I’m coming to fight and impose my style on my opponent. Martin is a good boxer who’s made it to a high level, but he still has to show what he’s made of. I’m going to give one hundred percent to stop his rise and be the first person to beat him.”
The 29-year-old Ellis (23-0, 14 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time since October 2020, having earned a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Alexis Rocha in his last outing. Originally from Lynn, Mass., Ellis also owns a pair of victories over veteran contender Eddie Gomez, including a first-round knockout over Gomez in December 2016, before winning by unanimous decision in their 2019 rematch. He takes on the Buenos Aires, Argentina native Palmetta (17-1, 12 KOs), who represented his home country at the 2016 Olympics before turning pro in November 2016. The 32-year-old has won his last 11 fights, with 10 coming by stoppage, including most recently defeating Yeis Solano in October 2021.
“I’m excited to be back in the ring on July 9,” said Ellis. “I want to thank my whole team, and I can’t wait to deliver fireworks for everyone watching this fight. I’m looking to steal the show and I’m training hard to make sure I do just that. You definitely want to tune in and see what I’m going to do in this one.”
“This fight is very special because it is the same day as Argentinian Independence Day,” said Palmetta. “Four years ago, I made the decision to leave my home and travel to the United States to further my boxing career. I want to face the biggest opponents, so I can earn the opportunity to become a world champion. This fight against Ellis is the big step I’ve been looking for. On July 9, get ready, because I’m coming with hunger, hard work, and determination. It hasn’t been easy for me; I have fought through the pain and struggle, and because of it, I remain humble and more motivated than ever.”
San Antonio’s Cardenas (20-1, 10 KOs) will look to run his current winning streak to nine when he competes in front of his hometown crowd on July 9. The 26-year-old added a pair of victories to his resume in 2021, having most recently stopped Marvin Solano in three rounds last August. He will be opposed by the 31-year-old Banquez (20-1, 14 KOs), who is originally from Venezuela and now fights out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.. Banquez had a successful U.S. debut in January, as he stopped the previously unbeaten Joahnys Argilagos in six rounds, building off of a 12-round decision over the previously unbeaten Prince Patel in July 2019.
Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday from Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk:
“I hope Rey Vargas doesn’t run too much, so we can give a good fight to the people.
“I’m not worried about Vargas. I’ve already beat the best in the division, so my confidence is very high heading into this fight.
“This is very special for me. I watched Manny Pacquiao fight Marco Antonio Barrera in San Antonio at the Alamodome and that was the day that I decided to start training in the gym. I’m so thankful to have this fight –which is a dream come true– happen here in San Antonio.
“This is a very important fight for me. I already beat Russell, but I just want to keep proving myself. We’re both going to go in there very confident in ourselves and that’s going to make it a great fight.
“I’ve worked on a lot of different things with Freddie Roach to make sure that we’re ready for anything Vargas brings. If he wants to come toe-to-toe like he said, then I’m ready to end this fight with a knockout.
“I guarantee that this is going to be a big night for me. We’re ready to show who the best in the division is.
“He’s never fought a guy like me. You’re going to see that on Saturday night.”
“If you want to exchange blows, I’m more than happy to do that. I see it as a compliment that he’s added a lot of people to his team. He’s taking me seriously, but I think it’s an advantage for me, because I feel like he’s worried.
“We certainly have great trainers in each corner. Freddie is a great trainer and I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the ring against him before. In the end, it’s going to be just Mark and I inside the ring. We’re ready to put on a show.
“I know that someone like Freddie Roach will think they know what our strategy will be. I have an ace up my sleeve, and when that happens, I’m tearing his head off. His confidence may be in the clouds, but the fall is going to hurt.
“I showcased my fighting skill in November coming off a long layoff. There was no ring rust then and there will be no ring rust now.
“I was prepared to fight Gary Russell Jr., but now we’re giving Magsayo a chance. I’m fully capable and ready to go.
“Magsayo says that I haven’t faced anyone like him before, but in reality, he has actually never faced anyone like me.
“Magsayo may want to exchange blows so badly because that may be the only thing he knows how to do. He doesn’t know how to fight otherwise. We will dominate him and take the belt.
“The higher the confidence is of my opponent, the harder the fall is.”
“My last loss taught me a lot and I’m coming back with everything I have. I’ve had an excellent training camp and I’m so excited to come back and prove, just like I did at 122 pounds, that I belong in this division and that I’m among the best.
“I learned to be a little more patient from my last fight. I learned that I have to use my height and my technical skill to my advantage.
“I feel like my power has increased. I feel better mentally and physically and I’m just ready to go.
“This is going to be the best version of myself. We’ve been working and tweaking everything. We went back to the drawing board.
“San Antonio is like my second home. Fighting here at the Alamodome means a lot to me. There have been a lot of legendary fights at that arena, so I’m really anxious to get in there and fight.
“This might be the fight of the night or the Fight of the Year. I know that he’s going to come ready. We’re both coming in off losses and we have a lot to prove in this fight.
“I’m excited to be here. After this fight, hopefully everything goes my way, because I’d love to fight these champions up here next to me. It’d be an honor and I can’t wait.”
“I’m thankful for this opportunity. We’re two fighters who are highly motivated coming off of a loss. Going up to 126 pounds is a big step. There are great fighters on this stage, and I know the winner of this fight is looking to fight the winner of the main event.
“I’m coming in hungry and in shape and I just can’t wait to get in the ring and display my skills. All the work we’ve put in just leads up to this.
“At the end of the day, there’s no home field advantage in boxing. This is nothing new for us. We’re pro athletes, this is what we do. So I’m not worried about fighting in his backyard.
“Of course I want the world title fight. That’s the opportunity that every fighter works for. But I’m not taking anything from Figueroa, because it won’t be an easy task. We’re going to be ready for everything.
“I learned a lot from my last fight. It was a great experience for me on the big stage and it’s just going to make me a better fighter going forward. I really can’t wait to compete.
“I believe that this fight is meant to be fireworks. The winner during this fight is going to be the crowd. We’re both hungry to prove that we’re the best.”
“I feel like I have it all. I have speed, power, great coaching and a great ring IQ. I’m a well-balanced fighter.
“I don’t know why I’m overlooked. Those top guys might just want to keep me under the radar. I just really want to wake the division up and let them know that I’m here and that I’m here for a long time.
“The hype around me is real, but I’ll never underestimate any opponent. I respect everyone I face. I’m going to bring my A-game, so I hope he brings his.
“Training camp went well. It was a straight-forward but tough camp. We got through it super smoothly. Even with the opponent switch, it’s the same mission, just a different game plan. I have to go in there and capitalize on any mistake my opponent makes.
“I’m facing a real fighter. I thought he beat Rolando Romero, but styles make fights. This is a guy who moves and knows how to box. I’ve got something prepared for him though.”
“I don’t believe the short notice will be a problem. I have great experience to rely on, and I have been doing work every day in order to be successful on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a great fight. I won’t underestimate Martin, but I won’t put him on a pedestal either. We’re going to go out there on Saturday night and see if the hype is really true.
“A lot of people think that this is a dangerous fight to take on short notice, but my team and my family supports me 100% and that’s all that I need.
“I would love to have a rematch with Rolly Romero. I exposed him last time we fought, and I haven’t forgotten that loss. I can leave it behind, but I can never forget it.
“I’m not here for talking, I’m here to get in the ring and see who can do what.”
Here is what the fighters had to say about their matchups, training camp and more:
“It was an amazing feeling to bring honor to my country by winning the world title earlier this year. But at the end of the day, I’m still the same humble guy that I’ve always been. It was very emotional returning home and seeing how proud everyone was of me.
“I’m facing a fighter who’s usually going backwards. He’s tall, so that’s always his plan. I’m hoping he doesn’t run too much in this fight. If I’m able to get to the right distance with him, I’m going to get the knockout.
“I’m prepared for anything he brings. I’ve gotten great sparring with guys who move, guys who go toe-to-toe and everything in between. It doesn’t matter how he fights, I’ll be ready for it.
“My footwork is definitely very important in this fight. Just like against Gary Russell Jr., I’m going to have to make adjustments. I’m not expecting him to mix it up with me.
“I’ve already faced the best fighter in the division, and that was Gary Russell Jr. I beat him clearly and I believe that sent a message to the rest of the division. Even before he hurt his shoulder or whatever happened, I was winning the rounds.
“I’ve learned so much at the Wild Card Gym with Freddie Roach. I’ve become a much more accurate puncher with a legendary coach like Freddie. It’s a relief to know that they have my back and will be able to get the most out of me as a fighter.
“The thing I learned from Manny Pacquiao is that discipline is the most important thing. Without that, you’re nothing in this sport. That’s what helps drive me day after day.
“There’s no ‘next Manny Pacquiao’, there’s only one Manny Pacquiao. My only goal is to make my career as great as I can. Being compared to Manny doesn’t faze me. I just want to put my own name in the history books.
“All of my opponents say they’re going to knock me out. I definitely don’t believe Vargas because I don’t see him pushing for it. Him saying that is just going to motivate me and make me better on July 9.
“I’ve been preparing well for this fight. I’m always looking to improve and step into the ring as the very best version of myself. The hard work is done, now I’m just focusing on what’s going to happen on fight night.
“My goal is to dominate this fight and bring the title back to Mexico. I fight for my Mexican people and my family, and I work hard every day to make them proud.
“’Nacho’ Beristain, along with my dad, have been with me ever since the start of my professional journey. I know Nacho just as well as he knows me. I like to say that he is an ‘old man of the sea’ with all of his life experience. He knows what type of fighter I am, and I know what type of trainer he is. He knows me to perfection after all of these years.
“I’m not overconfident, but I know how hard I worked and what I’m capable of. Magsayo will come out strong with lots of energy, but we will counter that. That’s when we’ll tear his head off.
“Mexico vs. Philippines has always been a great rivalry. It’s a guaranteed, can’t-miss show. This fight is not going to be the exception.
“The Mexican fans are spicy, hot-headed and passionate. They always come out and show their support for their fellow countrymen. They will do so once again and I’m very thankful to have their support every time I face a new challenge.”