Sports Eye

Another Filipino world boxing champion

By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.

FORMER two-time world boxing titleholder Johnriel Casimero gained for himself a stature as one of the best Filipino world champions when he TKO’d Mexican Ricardo Espinosa Franco in the 12th and final round to grab the World Boxing Organization (WBO) interim bantamweight title held last April 21 in Carson City, California.

Yes, we saw on television how the five-foot-four Ormoc City-born Casimero first decked the younger and taller Mexican knockout specialist Franco in the sixth round and finally finished him off in the final 12th canto in a toe-to-toe battle, 44 seconds left, to the delight of the raucous Filipino partisan crowd. His victory last Sunday was his 18th stoppage in his 27 wins with four losses and snapped Franco’s ten-knockout streak with three losses after 26 fights with 20 knockouts.

After his unsuccessful attempt in the junior bantamweight division (115 lbs) losing to compatriot Jonas Sultan which I guess was due to his weight problem, he decided to climb one rank heavier and that’s the bantamweight (118 lbs) division. This enabled him to achieve his longtime goal – to be a three-time world champion in three different classes. Only four Filipino prized-fighters have so far accomplished this feat: Manny Paquiao, Nonito Donaire, Donnie Nietes, and now Casimiro.  All won three or more world crowns in different weights. Casimiro could also now be a candidate to the prestigious Hall of Fame of professional boxers.  (The April 21 Casimero-Franco world title clash was his initial foray in bantamweight and also his first stint in Uncle Sam’s land staining Franco’s dominance). Also known as “Quadro Alas” in boxing world, the 30 year-old Casimero used to be the International Boxing Federation (IBF) light-flyweight and flyweight champ so I won’t be surprised at all if he would be considered. He’s a world skilled pugilist having been guided by former world champ and now Los Angeles-based Rodel Mayol in the absence of his long time trainer Jhun Agrabio.

Casimero is now the fourth reigning Filipino world champion after boxing icon Paquiao, Donaire, Jerwin Ancajas and Vic Saludar. Nietes, whom I describe as the second best Filipino ring fighters of all time after Paquaio, unfortunately decided to relinquish his WBO super flyweight crown because of his personal conflict with the WBO officials for refusing to fight anew countryman Aston Palicte being the number one contender to his crown. Nietes’ first fight with Palicte resulted in a controversial draw verdict that drew boos and jeers from the crowd.  We believe Nietes won convincingly, albeit narrowly. I also believe that a Filipino vs. a Filipino in a world boxing title fight is taboo. After that controversial Palicte battle, Nietes captured the WBO super flyweight diadem by beating Kazuto Ioka via split decision. As of today, the 36-year-old Nietes wants to fight either world champions Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand or Roman Gonzales of Nicaragua. Let’s wait and see. 

The World Boxing Association (WBA) stripped Jhack Tepora’s featherweight world tiara for being overweight before his fight last January.  If we include Nietes and Tepora, Philippines would have world seven crowns, a record since the birth of professional boxing in the country. (WBA bantamweight titlist Donaire is scheduled to fight South African Zolani Tete on April 28 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Let’s watch and pray for his victory. His conquest will also be our triumph).

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:“Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken, because He was angry.” 2 Samuel 22: 8

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