Johnriel Casimero
No secret in Casimero’s fight plan
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There’s no secret in what Johnriel Casimero has to do to wrest the WBO bantamweight crown from defending champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in their scheduled 12-round title bout at the Arena Birmingham, West Midlands, England on Nov. 30. The only way Casimero will beat Tete is to attack relentlessly and turn the fight into a phone-booth brawl.

With Tete’s five-inch height and eight-inch reach advantage, he’s expected to avoid engaging Casimero and box from long distance. How Casimero will cut the ring off and pressure Tete into fighting at close range is the mystery that the Ormoc slugger plans to unlock.

MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said he’s convinced Casimero will dethrone Tete either by a late stoppage or a decision. Gibbons is so confident that he’s envisioning Casimero to face newly-crowned super WBA bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue after disposing of Tete.

“Casimero’s now the interim champion and will be the full WBO beltholder on Nov. 30 then he wants Inoue,” said Gibbons. “I think Casimero has the style to give Inoue trouble. I don’t know about knocking out Inoue but he can hang with him 1,000 percent and will do very well.”

Inoue went the distance to beat Nonito Donaire Jr. in Saitama two weeks ago but wound up with a fractured right orbital bone, a fractured right cheekbone, a right eyelid cut that took five stitches to close and a broken nose. He’s not sure when he can fight again. Inoue, who also holds the IBF title, is scheduled to be examined by doctors in a few weeks then it will be determined if he’s ready to go back to the gym. Inoue’s been signed to do three fights next year under the Top Rank banner, two in the US and one in Japan. One of those fights could be against Casimero, assuming he repulses Tete. Another could be a rematch with Donaire.

One man has beaten both Tete and Casimero – South African Moruti Mthalane who was ruled unfit to continue because of a delicate cut in his left eyelid and lost to Donaire on a sixth round technical knockout in Las Vegas in 2008.. Mthalane halted Casimero in the fifth round in Johannesburg in 2011. The year before, Mthalane stopped Tete, also in the fifth, in Brakpan. “Casimero has the tools to beat Tete,” said Donaire. “But Tete’s a smart guy. He’ll make use of his advantage in height and reach. He won’t engage Casimero. He’ll run, dance and strike from a distance. Casimero’s chances will depend on if he’s able to catch Tete.”

Donaire said Casimero has to be “super aggressive” to topple Tete. “That’s how Mthalane beat Tete,” said Donaire. “He went after Tete from the start and never eased the pressure. If Casimero can do that, he’ll win.”  But fighting Inoue is a different scenario. “I think Inoue’s too fast,” said Donaire. “It’ll be difficult for Casimero to catch him.”

Frank Warren of Queensberry Promotions is staging the Tete-Casimero fight. WBO president Paco Valcarcel has assigned Edgardo Lopez of Puerto Rico as supervisor and Steve Gray of Lancashire as referee. The judges will be Lisa Giampa of Las Vegas, Marcus McDonnell of London and Lynne Carter of Philadelphia.

Casimero, 29, will make his second appearance in the UK. In 2016, he blasted Charlie Edwards into submission in the 10th round at the O2 Arena in London. Tete, 31, is unbeaten in five fights in England, his second home. His only losses came in Mexico, Argentina and in Brakpan.

JOHNRIEL CASIMERO
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