Casimero retains crown
JohnRiel Casimero celebrates after referee Steve Willis stopped the fight in 0:54 of the third round.
STAR/ File
Casimero retains crown
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - September 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero put his act on full display in his first US pay-per-view appearance and called out the big names in the 118-pound division to come forward after demolishing previously unbeaten Ghanaian challenger Duke Micah in 0:54 of the third round at the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, yesterday morning (Manila time). It was Casimero’s first defense of the crown he wrested from South African Zolani Tete in Birmingham last November.

Casimero, 31, said he didn’t expect Micah to engage but it was a welcome surprise. “Akala ko tatakbo at mag-boboksing sa labas kasi Olympian siya,” he said. “No sweat. Pati si (MP Promotions head) Sir Sean (Gibbons), hindi pinawisan.

Trabaho lang. Pinagtiyagaan ko ito. Malakas din at matibay si Micah. Undefeated siya pero dahil sa hard work naging easy fight.” Micah, 29, paid the price for standing up to Casimero although late in the first round, rocked the Filipino with an overhand right to the head. In the second stanza, the Ghanaian was dropped by a left hook to the temple and never recovered from the blow. Before the round ended, he tumbled to the canvas once more but referee Steve Willis ruled it a slip. After the bell rang to start the third canto, Willis summoned the ringside physician to examine Micah who seemed to be concussed. Willis warned Micah that if he didn’t show anything more, the fight would be stopped.

When Willis resumed hostilities, Casimero rushed in for the kill. A brutal left uppercut to the chin wobbled Micah and Willis quickly stepped in to halt the carnage. Throughout the short-lived contest, Casimero taunted Micah who was thoroughly outgunned. Casimero connected 52 percent of his power shots and landed more blows, 59-26. To celebrate the win, he did six one-handed push-ups in the ring. In the post-fight press conference, Casimero entertained the media by relating how Micah would grunt after taking shots to the body, mocking super WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue and laughing at his own broken English. He raised his record to 30-4, with 21 KOs.

Casimero said he wouldn’t consider the fight to be his best showing so far. He said the best is yet to come with a boyish grin in a video chat from his hotel room about an hour after the disposal. Someone said he showed Mike Tyson-like power but Casimero just shrugged it off. He’ll come home to the Philippines on Oct. 9, spend the holidays with family then go back to the US for his next fight in January or February. “Stay focused lang palagi,” he said.

Gibbons said Casimero would’ve knocked out Inoue if the Japanese fought instead of Micah. Casimero was supposed to take on Inoue in a triple unification championship showdown in Las Vegas last April but the fight was cancelled because of the pandemic. Inoue is booked to take on Australian Jason Moloney in Las Vegas on Oct. 31 and Gibbons wondered why not Casimero since the Filipino has been in the US since February. “Takot sa akin,” said Casimero. “Hindi siya ang Monster, ako ang real Monster. Si Inoue ang Japanese turtle.” Inoue remains Casimero’s target but if the Japanese continues to be elusive, Gibbons said there are other big-name fighters to consider, including regular WBA bantamweight titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba, the winner of the Dec. 12 WBC championship bout between titleholder Nordine Oubaali of France and mandatory challenger Nonito Donaire Jr. and undefeated newly-crowned WBC superbantamweight king Luis Nery of Mexico.

JOHNRIEL CASIMERO
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