Mark F. Villanueva

Boxing Insight: Irvin Magno vs Fonz Alexander

When my father was just a kid, at the plaza of what is now known as the city of Cabadbaran, he took the challenge that was offered in the open to fight the reigning champion in a slugfest in honor of Nuestra Seniora de Candelaria. He took the fight to him all right, being the fighting man that I know he was, surprising the champ by stepping up from among the crowd to beat him fair and square, as family legend has it.

While parents instinctively rush to check a child’s face upon knowledge of a fight my grandmother almost collapsed on her place the very instance dope of it reached her ears. I guess it goes without saying that not too many parent-boxer tandems succeed in the higher levels of the sport for that special relationship both parties have for each other. So when Irvin Magno (3-2-1) fought Fonz Alexander (3-3) on May 27, 2017 at the Bowler’s Arena in Manchester, I pondered how his father, Mr. Ian Magno, who passed away before he decided to turn professional, would have fared on his corner.

At 5’11” Fonz Alexander could have easily kept a much shorter fighter (5’6” in this case) at a distance with his jabs. It’s the logical thing to do, to fight tall and safest by picking his shots; to let the burden of proving oneself be on Irvin Magno who must bring the fight against the odds. But Alexander was not able to do that at all. His jab didn’t come as often as expected and Magno made him miss by regularly tipping his head to his left, dipping his left shoulder to signal his intentions of throwing a lethal uppercut to the body.

Surprisingly, despite the shorter reach, it was Magno who controlled that part of the fight. It’s like having a point guard dominate the rebounding department in a game of hoops. He staggers his opponent with the supposedly weaker hand, walks him down the corner, back heavy against the ropes, for some roughhousing.

Irvin Magno would put together six-punch combinations unanswered, and there are now clever variations to his punches, so it becomes harder to counter. He wouldn’t throw all his weight on a single attempt and lean back with cunning, and finish it up with beautifully timed fusillades. Occasionally, Fonz Alexander would come up with a wide hook, hoping to plot an escape route with it. But Magno would hunker down low, as if lying for cover in a field from an air assault and jump back up to return fire with hooks of his own.

From being a hard-nosed fighter, Irvin Magno is evolving into something way much slicker. His father wouldn’t worry too much now about a broken nose or a broken jaw because he’s learning the toughest part of boxing quite nicely: Defense. Everyone can punch, sure, like all them folks at a high-end gym looking so pretty and cute, but not everyone can detect something coming a mile away, as it were, with one’s ears close to the ground. In fact, he’s synchronizing his offense-defense with his jab effectively by tilting his head whenever he throws it, propelled by those powerful legs. It’s like slipping inside a small crack in the cave of Alexander’s defense, if you ask me. And then Alexander bears the brunt of his punches, and Magno sure can string them up deftly that it oddly reminds me of grandmother in her room doing some weave work in her turn-of-the-century home near the park.

It seems that his weight program is working wonders. This has been my primary concern when I first saw him going at it, fearing it may compromise his flexibility. Just a couple of months ago I asked the greatest living fighter in history, the “Sugar” Ray Leonard himself about using weights in boxing, and his reply directly validated my thoughts on the subject.

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No, the late Ian Magno wouldn’t have to worry too much all right. In the first place, his son had taken his toughest lessons to heart after settling with a draw and being given two straight losses he certainly did not deserve. In the second place, he’s not letting his three straight victories go to his head. From offense to defense, in victory or in defeat, everything seems to be transitioning smoothly like the slick champion boxer he wants to be. Ian Magno could not have left him all this time and IS doing a great job. All concerned would refuse to believe otherwise.

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Mark F. Villanueva, Uncategorized

Three Stories of Irvin Magno vs. Ali Wyatt

Irvin Magno vs. Ali Wyatt

Photo courtesy: Irvin Magno/ Facebook

Unlike in most boxing matches, the fight between Irvin Magno and Ali Wyatt had one more major story to tell other than their own.

Running on nervous energy, Wyatt’s story immediately took a circuitous route by moving away from its subject. He wanted to address his goals on the safer side, and in doing so appeared drab and jerky, like a bumbler leading into an unpopular path.

Ali Wyatt must have seen one of Irvin Magno’s training footages, where he personally told me he buckled sparring partners with his jab. Wyatt may have planned on tiring Magno by relegating to him the responsibility of carrying the weight of the fight, which turned out to be the main story of the evening at the Devonshire Dome.

Irvin Magno cut the ring and jabbed Wyatt to pin him against the corner. He chose his punches wisely and didn’t waste his energy. Unlike in his previous fights, his shots had many variations now. He managed his energy well by trimming down on unnecessary movements and keeping better balance.

Irvin’s story was all the crowd practically cared for. Whenever he threw a rococo of combinations the crowd roared along with it, chanting his name aloud as if in a rolling thunder. Wyatt had wanted to exhaust Irvin Magno by inveigling him in a chase around, hoping to lay a trap along the way to set up a dramatic twist.

Irvin Magno was hell-bent on pursuing his opponent to no end. Behind all that fused energy, a third story started to emerge as if in a nebula. It’s the story of Ian Magno, Irvin’s father, who passed away two years ago, spurring the lad to pursue a career as a prizefighter.

All the while, Irvin’s family thought Ian was suffering from acute heart problems, when he actually battled amyloidosis and myeloma. It just happened fast. “He had a lot of pain over Christmas, then by January he had really bad stomach cramps. By February he got misdiagnosed with acute heart failure and by March they finally found out what it really was. By then he had 3-6 months,” Irvin said.

Irvin Magno’s first three pro bouts were badly misdiagnosed, too. He thought he had a solid game plan coming in until he learned he wasn’t fighting against the man he was beating up. Knowing what fuels him to be the fighter he is today, I know Irvin’s story will continue to flourish. It was in Ian’s death that he made a commitment to really live. Just as you see him in the ring, he’s always about bringing it.

Irvin Magno dropped his hands again and got countered with a hook right after throwing a curlicue to the body. Ali Wyatt guessed his next move and tagged him with an overhand right that landed on his left temple. He has a tendency to drop his hands going in, but it further confirmed something I already knew- that he can take in as much punishment as he can give.

He socked his opponent hard on both flanks, hacking it so much so that if his story were a fairytale, I’d say, go on, Jack! You’re choppin’ that massive beanstalk real nicely!

Irvin Magno won his fight in the third round by TKO. The opposite camp’s corner threw in the towel and the referee quickly stopped the bout. Ali Wyatt dropped his head in defeat, while Irvin’s hands were raised up in the air, pointing toward Ian in the heavens.

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