Rey Vargas wins WBC featherweight title after split decision win over Mark Magsayo

Over in London, Derek Chisora claimed his own slender victory in a rematch with Kubrat Pulev

Rey Vargas, pictured after his win over Leonardo Baez in November, won the WBC featherweight title by beating Mark Magsayo. AP
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Rey Vargas climbed off the canvas to defeat Mark Magsayo by split decision and take the WBC featherweight title on Saturday.

In a bout between tow unbeaten fighters, two judges scored the bout 115-112 for Mexico's Vargas while the third saw Filipino Magsayo a 114-113 winner in the showdown at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

"It was a great fight," Vargas said. "I have no words to describe what happened. I'm so proud. It's my second title. It's going back with me to Mexico."

Vargas, the former WBC super bantamweight champion, improved to 36-0 by taking the 126-pound crown. Magsayo, who won the title in January with a majority decision over American Gary Russell Jr, fell to 24-1.

"He's the man of today. That's all," Magsayo said. "I'll come back stronger. I did my best. A little rest and I'll train to fight again. I'll correct my mistakes next fight."

Vargas said his next likely fight would be against a compatriot, World Boxing Association featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz.

"That has been talked about," Vargas said.

Magsayo knocked down Vargas late in the ninth round, a straight right to the head dropping the Mexican to his knees.

"It wasn't that effective but it counts," Vargas said. "He got me there. He got me with that one. I had been in control the whole fight, but in the ninth when he got me, I lost a little control."

After suffering only the fourth knockdown of his career, Vargas had to hold off Magsayo at the end of the ninth and throughout the 10th round.

"It was a straight punch," said Magsayo, who complained Vargas "did too much running in the ring."

Magsayo, 27, and Vargas, 31, traded flurries of punches from the opening seconds, with intense toe-to-toe exchanges setting a tone round after round.

The champion tagged Vargas with a hard left hook in the fourth round but the challenger answered with a flurry of left jabs and a hard right in response.

Vargas used his superior reach and jab to set up uppercuts and body shots in the fifth round, but was tagged in the jaw with an inside right by Magsayo.

A clash of heads opened a gash above Vargas's left eye in the seventh round, but the Mexican was more active than Magsayo with punches, movement and footwork, and the cut was never a factor.

"I've had cuts before," Vargas said. "It was a head butt. Everything was controled in the corner."

Chisora earns revenge

Derek Chisora speaks with Kubrat Pulev after their WBA International Heavyweight title fight. Getty

Over in London, British heavyweight Derek Chisora beat Kubrat Pulev on a split decision to avenge his 2016 loss to the Bulgarian and revive his career after three straight defeats.

The 38-year-old veteran and former WBC title challenger won 116-112, 116-114 and 112-116 on the three judges' scorecards at London's 02 Arena and in front of a crowd of some 7,000 spectators to earn the vacant WBA International title.

The defeat was 41-year-old Pulev's third in 32 professional fights, the other two coming in world heavyweight title bouts against Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko and Britain's Anthony Joshua.

Promoter Eddie Hearn saw more fights on the horizon for Chisora, who came into Saturday's fight as an underdog in the twilight of his career.

"People talk about Chisora and say 'should he hang up the gloves'. He has just beaten a top 15, top 10 heavyweight in the world so how can you criticise him?," said Hearn.

"If he is winning fights like that against the standard of Kubrat Pulev, why not carry on in the sport?"

Updated: July 10, 2022, 6:56 AM