Secret workouts for Casimero, Rigondeaux

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
Secret workouts for Casimero, Rigondeaux
JohnRiel Casimero

MANILA, Philippines — It’s been over two weeks since WBO bantamweight champion JohnRiel Casimero began sparring at Jorge Capetillo’s gym in Las Vegas but no film is available for public viewing.

Casimero is training to battle regular WBA titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson City, Los Angeles County, on Aug. 14. There was a video of Rigondeaux’ workout recently leaked by his own camp but it’s not new and apparently meant to throw off Casimero. The secrecy behind their preparations has raised the level of drama in the unification Showtime fight promoted by Tom Brown under Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.

The bout was arranged last April then Rigondeaux was replaced by WBC ruler Nonito Donaire Jr. But after a heated war of words between Casimero and Donaire, the duel was cancelled with Rigondeaux brought back into the fray. Casimero said Rigondeaux is a tougher opponent than Donaire even as he called the fight “easy work.” Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has a 20-1 record, with 13 KOs and holds a win over Donaire. The 40-year-old Cuban is a southpaw but so was South African Zolani Tete whom Casimero disposed of in three rounds to wrest the WBO crown in Birmingham in 2019. Rigondeaux is training in Texas with Ronnie Shields.

Casimero, 31, has sparred over 30 rounds the last two weeks. Two of his sparmates were seven-time Mexican amateur champion Emiliano Vargas, 17, and unbeaten superfeatherweight Gabe Flores Jr., 21. Vargas’ father Fernando is a Mexican ring legend and former world champion. Flores won the US Junior Open title in 2016 and has a pro record of 20-0, with 7 KOs. A fresh platoon of sparmates is being assembled for Casimero who moved to Los Angeles yesterday to work with trainer Nonoy Neri. Casimero will join super WBA welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao in morning runs.

“Mas madaling kalaban si Donaire kasi naka-stay lang siya sa harap,” said Casimero. “Si Rigo, tumatakbo kaya tatrabahuhin ko ang pag huli sa kaniya. Pero nag-iba na rin ang laro ni Rigo at nakikipagsabayan na. ‘Di na ganoon ka-elusive at bumaba na ang work rate.” Age and a long career may be wearing out Rigondeaux’ legs. Whether or not Rigondeaux is a standing target, Casimero said the Cuban’s going down.

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