Jessie Magdaleno assesses his present…and future
Fresh off the biggest win of his career, Jessie Magdaleno looks to defend his WBO junior featherweight title for the first time this Saturday night, just a stone’s throw away from a place for which he attributes his recent success.
If he really wanted to, Magdaleno could warm up at his home gym before the fight and, if he’s a Scott Quigg fanatic, would be able to run to the StubHub Center in Carson, California on fight night. “The Rock” rests nearby and there Magdaleno goes to train with Manny Robles, whose stable has cultivated a sparring hotbed in the greater Los Angeles area.
“I think this is the greatest change I’ve done,” Magdaleno told UCNLive.com at a media workout held at the Magnifico Gym last week. “I know I’ve done a lot of changes in the past – going with several different trainers. It’s something I really needed to do to really find myself, find the inner me and find who is the perfect match for Jessie Magdaleno. That is Manny Robles and Edgar Jasso – they are a perfect match for me. They’re very motivated and they’re very outspoken. That’s what I needed. When they see me slowing down a little bit, they’re there to pick me up and make continue to push.”
To further his belief that this new change as helped tremendously, Magdaleno admits that, if he never made it to Carson, he doesn’t think he would’ve beaten Nonito Donaire last November to win the 122-pound WBO title.
“No, I think if I were to stay with my previous coach and take that Donaire fight, I don’t think it would’ve went the way we wanted to,” said Magdaleno, whose last coach was famed trainer Joel Diaz. “With the change that I did, it’s something that opened my eyes and see things a lot differently. It still continues to be that way and I’m glad I got introduced to him.”
The 25-year-old has been no stranger to criticism in his young career and his carousel of coaches has only fueled such fire.
“It was my weight,” replied Magdaleno, once asked to give the harshest criticism he received. “Everybody criticized my weight, ‘Oh, he can’t make ’22 and he’s struggling to make it.’ But with the right team and the right people by your side, things are possible. With Edgar, Manny, Frank (Espinoza), my family and my brothers, with all their help, they’ve motivated me, pushed me and showed me the brighter side of the world. That’s what keeps me on track and that’s what keeps me going. That’s why everybody seen, when I fought Donaire, I got on the scale at 121 pounds and it’s the same thing that’s going to happen this fight.”
Magdaleno, 24-0 (17), is a massive favorite against a fringe contender in Adeilson Dos Santos. The Brazilian is only ranked No. 12 in the WBO’s junior featherweight rankings and, while Magdaleno is expected to handle him easily, looking spectacular in front of Brazilian fighters isn’t often the case.
“They’re difficult fighters,” said Magdaleno. “They have a very awkward style of boxing but it’s something that we look forward to and something we’re willing to accomplish and showcase on April 22nd.”
A showcase it is indeed for the southpaw and perhaps, for that reason, the fight is tucked away in a Top Rank Promotions Pay-Per-View card Saturday night (9:00 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). Not a thrilling match-up following a signature win but Magdaleno seems patient with the process.
“It’s going to be hard for a lot of people to take it in and follow up on it because (Donaire) was a legendary fighter and was something spectacular in the boxing world. We just continue doing our job, continue doing what we’re known and what we’re best for and that’s getting in the ring and fighting. No matter who it is, that guy at the lowest ranking can come and bring an upset – that’s just how boxing is. That’s what we’re expecting from Dos Santos. We feel that he’s going to come 100 percent ready for this fight and that he’s gonna try and take the title away but, as long as we’re focused and ready, it’s going to be something very difficult for him to do.”
Dos Santos, 18-2 (14), would defy 27-1 odds, should he pull off the upset. The Sao Paulo native may have some cards counted, however, thanks to Magdaleno’s last opponent.
“I am 100 percent ready for the fight,” Dos Santos told UCNLive.com outside the Conga Room in downtown Los Angeles. “I’ve been training for three months in Las Vegas with my team and it’s the first time doing training camp like this, so I’m ready.”
There in Vegas – which happens to be Magdaleno’s hometown – Dos Santos has been training and sparring with Donaire in preparation for this fight and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an experienced voice in his ear.
“Yes. He’s an amazing fighter,” Dos Santos said about Donaire’s help. “I was a fan of him in the ring and I didn’t know him outside the ring. He’s an amazing person. He helped me a lot for this fight and now I’m more of a fan of him.”
Dos Santos is the polar opposite of Donaire, going into this fight, however, and the nameless 25-year-old could easily get lost in the ether, should he lose his first shot at a major title. When asked if he’s treating this fight as the only title shot he’ll get, Dos Santos replied, “Yes, I trained very hard because I want this shot. I want this title for Brazil, for me and for my team.”
Of course, there are bigger hopes for Magdaleno, should he take care of Dos Santos, and, for years now, the elephant in the room of 122-pounders has been Guillermo Rigondeaux. Jessie is well aware of “El Chacal,” especially because he studied Rigondeaux’s massacre of Donaire in preparation for his fight. Jessie said he has maybe a year left before an inevitable move up to featherweight and hopes he can unify the junior featherweight title within that time frame.
“It’s something great. I look at it as something awesome for me,” said Magdaleno, once the idea of unification and the Cuban’s name were mentioned in the same breath. “Hopefully get myself in there with another great fighter like Rigondeaux. It’s something I look forward to and one I’d like to see happen. Most people say they’re afraid to fight Rigondeaux but I’d take on anybody in the 122 (pound) division. Anybody who has a title, I’m ready for. If that fight comes down with a contract and everything, I’d be more than happy to sign it.”
Notoriously bypassed by fellow beltholders at junior featherweight, Rigondeaux, who holds the WBA title, finally found himself a defense for June 17 versus Moises Flores in another mere undercard showcase of an HBO Pay-Per-View card (Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II). When asked if he thought looking bad against Rigondeaux was the real fear for other fighters, Magdaleno said:
“Yeah. I think that’s what it is. It’s just like a (Vasyl) Lomachenko fight. It’s harder for (Rigondeaux) to get a fight now because of his movement. No one can really mimic that movement and really fight that style. I think that’s why people back off when it comes to fighting Rigondeaux and those type of fighters because they’re not used to seeing that. I think we wouldn’t have any problem with that.”
Should Dos Santos be an obstacle for him this weekend, Magdaleno may cite that awkward style of his opponent as the reasoning but if he manages to look impressive a second straight time, then not only is the change he made reconfirmed to be a great decision but much bigger fights are surely in his future.