The second season of the WBSS doesn't seem like it can catch a break, of any kind. The tournament started with high expectations on the back of a brilliant inaugural season, but has been troubled by various woes, from bad scheduling, poor crowds, a frustrating lack of a TV deal in the UK, the injury of Ryan Burnett and financial problems.
Now the WBSS semi-final bout between Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) and Nonito Donaire (39-5, 25) is off, with Tete suffering an injury, a story broken by Mike Coppinger-
The plan seems to be fore Donaire to remain on the card at all cost, and it seems like he will be matched with 30 year old American Stephon Young (18-1-3, 7), who suffered his sole defeat at the hands of Reymart Gaballo last year in an interim WBA Bantamweight title fight. That would, potentially, become the new semi-final, with Donaire defending the WBA "super" title against Young, in what would be a hugely disappointing match up, but better than seeing Donaire pulled from the card at such late notice.
Young was scheduled for the show anyway, and should be in good condition, though was preparing for someone else and not Donaire. Originally it was Nikolai Potapov, though Potapov himself was removed from the card and replaced by Daniel Lozano at relatively short notice.
If Young does fill in against Donaire the winner of that bout will then be expected to fight in the final, against the winner of the second semi-final, between Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] and Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12), with that bout taking place in May. Sadly though the WBO title will not be expected to be up for grabs in the eventual final, meaning the Muhammad Ali Trophy winner will not have either the WBO or WBC titles.
Staying on the subject of the WBO title, depending on the length of Tete's injury he is probably going to be returning to defend the belt against the newly crowned WBO "interim" champion John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18), who won the title this past weekend. Whilst that's a good fight to look forward to down the line, it is not Tete Vs Donaire, and it is not a WBSS semi-final bout.
The boxing world loves to throw a curveball every so often, and we had one of those launched yesterday, when the WBO announced that they would be putting their "interim" Bantamweight title on the line this coming Saturday.
The organisation announced that the upcoming bout between John Riel Casimero (26-4, 17), from the Philippines, and Mexican puncher Ricardo Espinoza Franco (23-2, 20) will be for the WBO "interim" Bantamweight title due to the fact that the regular title is essentially held up in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS). That's the same WBSS which will have their champion, Zolani Tete (28-3, 21) will be defending one week later against Nonito Donaire (39-5, 25).
The WBO announced their decision through their website yesterday and whilst there is some credence to be given to their decision it does need noting that the timing, in particular, is odd given how Tete is defending the belt just days later.
For Casimero the bout will be a chance to become a 3-weight champion, having previously won titles after Light Flyweight and Flyweight, whilst 21 year old Franco will be getting his first "world" title fight. Coming in to this Franco has been in sensational form, having won his last 13, with 12 stoppages, but this is a big step up in class for the Mexican who's best wins have come against Ricardo Nunez and Yeison Vargas.
In recent bouts former 2-weight world champion John Riel Casimero (26-4, 17) has failed to really put on a show, having some very messy and ugly fights. Today however he was in a very fan friendly contest, as Japanese visitor Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10) [山下賢哉] made the perfect foil for the Filipino.
The fight, as every Yamashita fight, started with the Japanese fighter pressing the action. That wasn't a great tactic however as it lead to openings for the crisp and sharp shots of Casimero, who found a home for his right hand, which he landed regularly in the opening round. The Filipino really began to light Yamashita on a regular basis through rounds 2 and 3 as Yamashita began to eat bombs from Casimero, and walk though them. It was a brave tactic from the Japanese visitor, but one that needed him to have his own success, especially in the exchanges which he continually lost.
Casimero began to slow down in round 4, but still landed the better shots, going to both head and body and landing some brutal uppercuts. It seemed like he couldn't miss, and really showed the difference in class between the two men. The slow down from the former champion continued in round 5, arguably Yamashita's best round, but he still found the openings for big right hands, and shined at the end of the round with a flashy combination that showed he still had more than enough in the tank.
To begin round 6 Casimero landed a huge bomb. Yamashita tried to come forward but lacked the life in his legs and was tagged again as Casimero seemed to show a bit of mercy before unleashing a nasty uppercut that seemed to badly damage Yamshita's nose. He some how stayed standing up until the referee waved the bout off, then stumbled a few moments later to his knees, later being given oxygen in his corner. He seemed fine, though a little shocked.
The win puts Casimero in the Bantamweight mix, as he pursues a third world title. For Yamashita his effort might see brought back to the Philippines to take on some of the other Filipino talent at Bantamweight, though he is still very popular on the domestic scene and will likely return to Japan for his next bout.
Tomorrow ESPN5 will be showing a stacked card with a number of really interesting fights. Thankfully everyone made weight for the show, though some fighters did struggle on the scales.
Thge main event will see unbeateen Filipino Dave Penalosa (14-0, 10) taking on Mexican foe Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1, 15), in a bout for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title. Both did make the 126lbs limit, though not on their first attempt. Originally Penalosa was 128lbs whilst Cardenas was 127lbs. Thankfully both did make the weight after being given time to lose the excess.
A second title bout will see GAB Light Welterweight champion Jheritz Chavez (8-3-2, 6) make his second defense, as he takes on Junar Adante (7-11-1, 4). Both of these men made 140lbs for the bout, coming in at the Light Welterweight limit.
The highly anticipated Bantamweight bout between the exciting Kenya Yamashita (13-4, 10) [山下賢哉] and 2-weight world champion John Riel Casimero (25-4, 16) saw both men hitting the scales at 118lbs, dead on for their really exciting looking 10 round bout.
Unbeaten teenage sensation Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10) weight in at 118lbs dead on for his contest with Thai visitor Petchchorhae Kokietgym (17-2, 8), who was 116lbs for the bout. This will be Martin's first televised bout and is a huge chance for him to wow an audience, who have only been able to see him fight through social media.
A 10 round bout between Carlo Caesar Penalosa (13-1, 6) and Yokthong KKP (18-5, 11) saw Penalosa come in at 113lbs whilst the visitor was 114lbs in what could be a pretty competitive match up, if Yokthong has prepared properly.
(Image courtesy of ESPN5)
Back in December we reported that Kenya Yamashita (13-4, 10) [山下賢哉] would be returning to the ring on February 17th to take on former 2-weight world champion John Riel Casimero (25-4, 16). It now seems that those plans have changed slightly, but not significantly, and that more bouts from the card have been added, and in fact more details in general have now been confirmed for the card.
So the change, is that the bout will not take place on February 17th but instead February 16th, 1 day earlier than previously reported. It's nothing big, but still something worth noting.
More interestingly the card the bout is on is set to be televised, with ESPN5 showing the card in the Philippines, in what is huge news and really exciting news for Filipino fight fans!
Another bit of news is that there is a host of other top Filipino fighters now confirmed for the card.
Along with the Casimero Vs Yamashita bout we will also see Dave Penalosa (14-0, 10) battle against Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1, 15) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title, in what should be a really good test for Penalosa. We will also see teenager Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10) make his TV debut, as he battles Thai foe Petchchorhae Kokietgym (17-2, 8), who was last seen in October being stopped by Giemel Magramo. This should be a great opportunity for Martin to raise his profile and something we're looking forward to seeing, as we've followed him for a while and been very impressed from the fan cam footage that's been made available.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!