This past weekend was a big one for the Bantamweight division, as John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20) made a statement and stopped South African fighter Zolani Tete (28-4, 21) in 3 rounds to claim the WBO title. Following that win Japanese star Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥], the current IBF and WBA "super" champion stated that he was interested in facing Casimero.
Today Inoue was in attendance for the latest Ohashi promoted card at Korakuen Hall, headlined by his cousin Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] beating Jheritz Chavez (9-4-2, 7) for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title.
After seeing his cousin's win the "Monster", and mentor Hideyuki Ohashi, spoke to the press regarding his future, and it was made very clear that Inoue really wanted Casimero next.
Following Casimero's win Inoue informed Mr Ohashi, who was in Las Vegas for the US debut of Andy Hiraoka (15-0, 10) [平岡アンディ], that he wanted Casimero and the message was passed on to Top Rank's head honcho Bob Arum, who promoted the show with Hiraoka's bout. According to comments reported in the Japanese press today it seems likely that Arum will focus on that bout and getting a WBA, IBF and WBO unification bout made in the new year.
Inoue's win in November against Nonito Donaire did, of course, see him suffer a fracture to his orbital floor. That injury will be re-examined later this month, and he has already resumed like gym work.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Inoue, the unified WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion, responded to Casimero's win on twitter, stating:
"I became interested in fighting Casimero." [Literal translation]
We've long known that Inoue wanted big unification bouts and whilst the logical next bout for Inoue would be WBC champion Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12), who recently beat Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上 拓真], having Casimero as an option may actually make more sense. Both are linked, in someway, to Top Rank and it would be an easier bout to make than working with Oubaali's handlers. It would also allow the WBC mandatory situation, which is looming for Oubaali, to be tidied up before that title is unified.
With two clear unification options lined up for Inoue it's a great for him to be in. As for Casimero the bout would be a huge opportunity on the global stage for a man who has never had things easy. He has had to travel for most of his big bouts, and whilst he would have to travel to face Inoue the bout could end up on neutral soil in the US or in Japan, where visiting fighters often talk about how well they are treat.
With both men clearly interested in the bout it would be no surprise to see this either next, or the fight after next, depending on how happy the world title bodies are to delay their mandatory title fights which were already delayed due to the WBSS tournament.
Tomorrow in the UK WBO Bantamweight champion Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) will face off with "interim" champion John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19) in a mouth watering match up.
The bout is not only for the WBO belt, but also a potential unification bout with Japanese star Naoya Inoue, with both Tete and Casimero talking about a a showdown with the Monster in 2020, potentially on Inoue's Top Rank debut in the coming spring.
On Friday Tete and Casimero both took part in their weigh in and both came in comfortably under the Bantamweight limit.
Tete came in at around 116¼lbs, closer to the Super Flyweight limit than the Bantamweight one. This is the same weight Tete was against Omar Andres Narvaez back in April 2018, in what was a dull performance, and he a simila weight against Mikhail Aloyan in his WBSS quarter final bout in October 2018. It's worth noting he has now been out of the ring for over a year, due to an injury forcing him out of a bout with Nonito Donaire.
Casimero was a full 1lb heavier than Tete, coming in at 117¼lbs. He looked in great shape for what will be his 4th bout of the year, giving him a busier year than most fighters in the sport. Coming in to this he has won, and defended, the interim title since Tete last fought and also notched a notable win over exciting Japanese fighter Kenya Yamashita.
Related - Casimero takes on Tete for WBO title!
This coming Saturday fight fans will get the chance to see WBO Bantamweight champion Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) take on WBO "interim" champion John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19), with the two men both looking to put themselves up there in the Naoya Inoue sweep stakes for 2020.
The bout is a really interesting one, between two talented Bantamweights both looking to show what they can do to an wide global audience.
Interestingly the betting for the bout makes the fight seem like a bit of a mismatch with Tete a clear favourite. Most bookies have Tete at 4/11 as we write this, but he is best priced at 21/50. Casimero is widely available at 2/1 with the best price being 12/5.
The draw is priced at 26/1.
As for the method of victory, things get really interesting. A decision for Tete is best priced at 7/5 at the moment with a stoppage win for the lanky South African is 15/8. On the other a stoppage for the Filipino is best priced at 9/2 and a decision for Casimero is a huge 6/1.
Rather interestingly the odds on the bout going the distance really, really even. You can actually get evens either way on the bout going 12 rounds.
Related - Casimero takes on Tete for WBO title!
For Casimero the bout sees him return to UK for the second time, following a win over Charlie Edwards back in 2016, and also gives him a great chance to become a legitimate 3 weight world champion. As for Tete the bout will be his first in over a year. The last time the South African was in the ring was back in October 2018, when he out pointed Mikhail Aloyan in a WBSS quarter final bout. A planned bout earlier this year for Tete, against Nonito Donaire, was cancelled due to a shoulder injury, that forced him out of the WBSS. That type of ring rust will not help Tete against an unorthodox and wild fighter like Casimero.
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