Back in July we saw the announcement of Milan Melindo's (35-2, 13) first defense of the the IBF Light Flyweight title, which will take place on September 16th against former WBA Minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler (31-2, 10).
Earlier this week saw the announcement of a major support bout, with world level implications of it's own.
That bout is an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator between former 2-weight world champion John Riel Casimero (24-3, 15) and compatriot Jonas Sultan (13-3, 9), with the winner to become the mandatory for Jerwin Ancajas.
Of the two men Casimero is by far the more well known, having been a world champion at Light Flyweight and Flyweight,and proving himself around the globe as he's been a genuine road warrior. Although a proven world class fighter, with wins against the likes of Luis Alberto Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, Amnat Ruenroeng and Charlie Edwards, this will be his first real test at Super Flyweight. As for Sultan he's gone about his career quietly, but has been really impressive in recent years, with wins against the likes of Rene Dacquel, Tatsuya Ikemizu, Makazole Tete and Sonny Boy Jaro.
The bout is brilliant co-feature and the type of bout which will see both men really go out there looking to secure a world title shot, and potentially an all-Filipino world title bout.
Around two years ago the Flyweight division looked like one of the best in the sport with the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Kazuto Ioka, Brian Viloria, Johnriel Caismero, Amnat Ruenroeng and Akira Yaegashi as well as the promise of fighters like Donnie Nietes and Naoya Inoue moving into the division and making a mark in the division. Sadly though the division has gone from being one of the best to one that has been left as a relative mess with fighters moving up, or down, in weight and leaving us with a lack of real star power. Yeah Ioka is still there but he's the only one of that first group to still look like a prime fighter, and the only other champion in the division is the much maligned Zou Shiming, who is unlikely to keep the WBO title for long.
The latest fighter to abandon the division was recent IBF champion Johnriel Casimero (23-3, 15), who defended the belt just once. Casimero, like Gonzalez and Estrada, has vacated a Flyweight title in 2016 to chase bigger bouts at Super Flyweight, not a huge problem but it is one that takes yet more star power away from the Flyweight division, and potentially forces the division to move towards pushing the next generation a little bit quicker than expected.
With Casimero vacating the IBF have already ordered their top contenders to face off for the title. Those top contenders are Donnie Nietes (39-1-4, 22), who is ranked #3 behind to two vacant slots, and Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi (22-3, 15), AKA Komgrich Nantapech or Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, who is ranked #4, just a place behind Nietes.
At the moment it's unclear if Nietes will take this opportunity or pursue a WBO title fight with Shiming, for whom he is the mandatory challenger. It gives Nietes a really key position in deciding the future of the division but it also gives the division yet another opening for some of the rising fighters at Flyweight, including Daigo Higa, Muhammad Waseem, Andrew Selby and Kevin Satchell along with veterans like Takuya Kogawa and Yodmongkol Vor Saenghtep, who are both said to be after world title fights.
Although decisions haven't been made it does look like 2017 is going to be a massively transitional year for the Flyweight, and could, hopefully, make the year a really interesting one for the division even if we do have to wait until 2018 for the division to really make much sense.
Earlier today we reported that the team involved with WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12) [井岡一翔] had been rumoured to have made an offer to face against IBF champion Johnriel Casimero (23-3, 15). It seems if that bout isn't made the WBA will order Ioka to make a mandatory defense against Stamp Kiatniwat (15-0, 6) [แสตมป์ กระทิงแดงยิม].
Usually reliable Thai sources appear to believe that a bout between Stamp and Ioka will be ordered shortly as a mandatory for Ioka, following Juan Francisco Estrada's failure to meet mandatory obligations. According to the Thai's the order will give the teams a 90 day window to stage the fight.
The source also stated that the fight will "certainly be staged this year", though it would seem likely that unification would come above a mandatory, and maybe a good think in Stamp's case given how he struggled badly with Gregorio Lebron, twice.
If any issues prevent that unification bout being made it would seem like we'll get Ioka Vs Stamp on New Year's Eve in Osaka, with the Thai's team possibly cashing out their man in a bout that would see him being a major under-dog.
This could however also be part of a powerplay from Stamp's team looking for a step-aside fee to put the mandatory defense back, rather than make Ioka "waste" their biggest show of the year on someone with out name recognition, like Stamp.
Kazuto Ioka Vs Johnriel Casimero in the works?
(Image courtesy of Thairec.com)
Sources in Japan have began to report that Ioka have made an offer to match the WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12) [井岡一翔] against IBF champion Johnriel Casimero (23-3, 15) for a bout that would be held on New Years Year in Osaka, in what would be a major Flyweight unification bout and decide the division's #1 fighter.
Ioka, a 3-weight world champion, had been hoping to secure a fight with former WBA "super" and WBO champion Juan Francisco Estrada, before Estrada abandoned the division to focus on chasing Super Flyweight gold. When Ioka was chasing that bout it was being pencilled in for a year ending Osaka show, with Estrada no longer in the division it appears Ioka is looking elsewhere for major bouts and his team have reached out to Casimero to fill the void they had hoped Estrada would fill.
For Casimero the offer will be a welcome one. It guarantees a large pay day for the Filipino and gives him a chance to prove himself as the top Flyweight, something he appeared to want earlier this year when Roman Gonzalez was in the division. It will also see him adding another stamp on his passport as his incredibly world tour of boxing continue. In the last 2 years he has fought in Mexico, Thailand, China and England, and prior to that he had also fought in the Panama, Argentian, South Africa and Nicaraua, as well as his native Philippines.
Although no news from anyone connected to the two camps has been revealed it does seem like a bout that both teams would pursue with both wanting to prove themselves as the #1 in the division. Incidentally a win for Ioka would see him unifying titles for the second time in his career, following the WBA-WBC unification at Minimumweight against Akira Yaegashi, whilst Casimero would unify titles for the first time and claim his first WBA affiliated title, having previously held IBF and WBO belts.
If the bout is going to be made w suspect news will come over the following few weeks as promoters dash to put together their end of year shows, of which we know Ioka, Watanabe and Ohashi will be doing, with Ohashi's expected to come a day or two earlier than the others, and rumours are that Hatanaka could also be involve in a year ending show with Japan again finishing a year with a flurry of excitement in the ring.
Tomorrow fight fans in the UK will get the chance to see the European debut of IBF Flyweight champion Johnriel Casimero (22-3, 14) as he faces the unbeaten Charlie Edwards (8-0, 3).
Today the weigh in for that bout took place and both men weighed in at 111lbs, a full 1lb under the Flyweight limit.
The challenger, who is several inches shorter than Edwards, seemed confident and failed to be intimidated by the challenger who appeared cocky, and almost arrogant at the weigh in. Whilst the challenger is confident this bout is a monstrous step up in class for a man who, in we're being honest, is being moved from British level to World level without really having any seasoning of note.
For Casimero, who is making his first defense of the title, it seems likely that he'll love Ewards' over-confidence and has often built his own confidence from a crowd wanting to see him get beat, as we saw famously in Argentina against Luis Alberto Lazarte.
Casimero continues road journey as he faces fast tracked Englishman Edwards
(Image courtesy of Sky Sports)
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