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Casimero to feast on Cuban
JohnRiel Casimero
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Casimero to feast on Cuban

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 24, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Arroz a la Cubana is a popular rice dish among Filipinos and MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said yesterday WBO bantamweight champion JohnRiel Casimero will feast on the meal when he battles WBA titleholder Guillermo (The Jackal) Rigondeaux of Cuba in a scheduled 12-round unification showdown, likely to be in California, on Aug. 14.

Casimero, 31, is coming off a third round knockout win over previously unbeaten Ghanaian Duke Micah in his first title defense in Connecticut last September while Rigondeaux, 40, hasn’t fought since scoring a split 12-round decision over Venezuela’s Liborio Solis for the vacant WBA crown in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in February last year. Casimero has won nine of his last 10 fights and Rigondeaux, his last three. The Filipino has been more active with eight fights in the last five years compared to five for Rigondeaux.

A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Rigondeaux enjoys a 3 1/2 inch advantage in reach over Casimero and is expected to use his length to box from a distance. He’s hard to hit, elusive and a stylist who likes to run rings around his opponent. Casimero, in contrast, is a brawler who could be the hardest hitter in the 118-pound division. Both are multiple world champions with Casimero previously holding the IBF lightflyweight and flyweight titles and Rigondeaux, the WBA/WBO superbantamweight diadem. Whoever wins will be lined up against super WBA/IBF bantamweight beltholder Naoya Inoue who defends his straps against Filipino Michael Dasmarinas in Las Vegas on June 19. For Casimero, a duel with Inoue is his ultimate goal but he knows he can’t sell Rigondeaux short.

Casimero has started light workouts in his Ormoc hometown and will move his training camp to Manila shortly to begin sparring. He plans to land in the US on June 1 and station in Las Vegas working with strength and conditioning coach Memo Heredia. Casimero said one punch will do the trick to put Rigondeaux to sleep. “Sabi ni Tata (Casimero’s nickname), basta tamaan niya kahit isa, gugulong si Rigo,” said Casimero’s associate Mark Lontayao. “Sa ngayon, light training, takbo sa bundok sa umaga tapos mitt session sa gym supervised ng kaniyang kapatid Jayson. Paghahandaan niya si Rigo. Nasa 140-145 pounds si Tata. Aware siya na si Rigo not the same sa last two fights. He can’t run the way he used to and has tendencies to go toe-to-toe. Nakita niya nasaktan si Rigo ni Solis. For Tata, pag siya ang nakatama kay Rigo, matutulog siya. Si Memo ang in charge sa strength and conditioning. Iba si Memo, kaya niyang ilabas ang explosiveness ni Quadro Alas.”

Gibbons said he’s betting his house that Casimero will knock out Rigondeaux, who defected to the US from Cuba in 2009. “Game over, it’s bye bye Rigo, he’s going home to Cuba on a raft,” he said. “It’s arroz a la Cubana on fight night. Casimero will do what (Nonito) Donaire couldn’t.” In 2013, Donaire floored Rigondeaux in the 10th round but couldn’t finish him off and lost by a unanimous decision. The Cuban’s other Filipino victim was Drian Francisco who was outpointed in 2015. Rigondeaux’ record is 20-1, with 13 KOs and three of his seven victims on points were decked. His ability to take a punch is questionable as he has been knocked down by Hisashi Amagasa twice, Donaire once and Ricardo Cordoba once and was stopped by Vasyl Lomachenko. But Rigondeaux is a dangerous body puncher and he once broke James Dickens’ jaw. Casimero’s record is 30-4, with 21 KOs.

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