Weekend recap: Rikiishi makes wild comeback, stops Magnesi in WBC eliminator

Weekend recap: Rikiishi makes wild comeback, stops Magnesi in WBC eliminator

Following in the footsteps of WBC featherweight champion O’Shaquie Foster’s dramatic finish of Rocky Hernandez, newly crowned mandatory challenger Masanori Rikiishi shocked hometown favorite Michael Magnesi with a final-round onslaught in last Friday’s eliminator.

Full fight footage is sadly as a premium; this incredibly jank recording was all I could find (EDIT: saad1000, a better sleuth than I, found a better version). It was reportedly quite the entertaining tussle, though one clearly favoring Magnesi (23-2, 13 KO) for the majority. He was up by at least three on all cards heading into the 12th, where Rikiishi (15-1, 10 KO) suddenly found the mark with a vicious right hook that sent Magnesi to the canvas.

Magnesi made it to the feet, only for Rikiishi to put him down again with a straight left. When Magnesi again beat the count, a patient Rikiishi backed him to the corner and landed a broadside that, were Magnesi not the local A-side, would have sent the ref into action. Magnesi managed to tie up, but his legs gave out as the ref separated them. The ref again let the fight continue, allowing Rikiishi to batter his cooked foe against the ropes before finally earning the standing TKO with less than 30 seconds left on the clock.

For your amusement, compare the absolute elation of the Japanese commentators to the absolute despair of the Italian ones.

Rikiishi has now knocked out six of his last seven opponents and positioned himself for his first title shot at 29 years old, though his number theoretically won’t be called until October. Magnesi now sits at 2-2 in his last four, having dropped a split decision to Anthony Cacace in 2019.

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