CHICAGO - A professional boxer's life is extremely regimented, perpetually tied to a rigid slew of ring work and physical conditioning demands.
But when I got hold of Mark Magsayo through his cellphone on a warm Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles, the newly-minted WBC featherweight champion was nowhere near the Wildcard gym.
With his wife and manager, Frances, in tow, the sport's latest power couple were driving around town. Under the backdrop of cloudless, pale blue skies, they inhaled the sights and sounds in the City of Angels.
Before you get any ideas, they weren't playing hooky.
Mark got the greenlight for some time off to allow his body to recover from a grueling 12-round battle with Gary Russell Jr, the former champion he dethroned at The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey last Sunday.
Five days after annexing the belt, the Magsayos still feel like heaven. But they merrily came back to earth to recall the life-altering experience with SPIN.ph.
Given the stage of a nationally-televised broadcast in the States and the jewel at stake, the oddsmakers presumed that Mark would succumb to the bright lights and pegged the Tagbilaran, Bohol native as a stiff 3-1 underdog.
BUT THE MAN THEY CALL "MAGNIFICO" PROVED TO BE BIGGER THAN THE MOMENT.
He turned Russell into his Monalisa and carved out a masterpiece victory that was driven by a mix of controlled rage, power punching, and a beautifully conceived game plan.
While one judge - Lynne Carter - mysteriously carded a draw, the numbers do not lie and CompuBox reflected Magsayo's dominance.
Mark threw more punches overall, 543-323, and landed more power blows, 140-53. He also out-jabbed Russell, 203-64.
And with Frances looking on at ringside, Mark felt invincible and fought with the aid of performance-enhancing inspiration.
"Walang kaba, sir, walang injuries. I was really prepared for that fight," he said.
As for the strategy, Mark revealed that coach Freddie Roach instructed him to utilize his size advantage by crowding Russell and suffocating him with volume punching while still keeping his guard.
Russell's blows came with heavy power, Mark conceded. But the American's blows were a little slow on the trigger and never hurt him.
"MAY POWER, SIR, PERO NAKAYA KO NAMAN. KITANG KITA KO ANG MGA SUNTOK NIYA."
As challenging as the ordeal was, a huge chunk of the battle was also won outside the ring, says Frances, a tattoo artist with the brains of a scientist.
"We prepared for three months for this and seeing him work hard everyday I was confident he would get the job done. Known as a brawler, Mark showed his technical savvy against Russell and when we watched the bout's replay I was amazed how well he boxed and how fast his hands were."
Frances credited the rest of Team Magsayo - Jeaneth Aro (nutritionist), Pedro Garcia (strength and conditioning) and Ash Parker (hand-eye coordination) - for their incredible support.
Frances, like her husband, also cut a huge slice of gratitude for MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons, who believed in Mark from the start and worked tirelessly to make the title shot materialize.
"We are one team tugging on the same rope."
And they've only just begun.
"I'll work even harder. Mas mahirap ang depensa," said Mark.
"For sure," Frances chimed in. "More can be done."
After so many obstacles that included trudging a path littered with doubts, the Magsayos have not only survived. They've thrived just long enough to reach the summit of their dreams.
To paraphrase the lyrics of a Bette Midler song, the Magsayos' journey is all about the story of, the glory of true love.