By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Former IBF junior flyweight and flyweight world champion John Riel Casimero of the Philippines made it known a couple of months ago that he would be seeking a third world title belt as a bantamweight. He is penned to fight for the WBO International title in the 118lb division this April 20 and a win will move him one step closer towards his dream.
The 30 year old Casimero (26-4,17KO’s) will face Ricardo Espinoza Franco (23-2,20KO’s), a young 21 year old Mexican, in Carson,California. This will be the first U.S. appearance for Casimero, who has seen action in eight different countries.
After a brief rest following his impressive sixth round TKO win against Japanese Kenya Yamashita at the Skydome in Quezon City, Casimero continued his training in the Philippines under Jhun Agrabio. Casimero has left the Philippines for the U.S. but Agrabio had to stay behind waiting for his visa.
“Casimero is still ten pounds over the limit but I am confident he can lose it before the official weigh-in,” Agrabio told this writer, “I already saw a video of his opponent and we trained so he can knock the guy out.”
Weight issues are nothing new to Casimero. In fact, when he faced Amnat Ruenroeng in their rematch in Beijing in 2016, both reached a point where they were too weak to stand in their effort to make weight. Casimero took Ruenroeng’s IBF flyweight title by fourth round TKO. Casimero also lost his IBF junior flyweight title at the scales in 2014. In between the weight problems, Casimero has given fans memorable action packed bouts. He is currently ranked number six by the WBO.
Two years ago, his plans to win a third world title got derailed when he lost to countryman Jonas Sultan by unanimous decision in an IBF junior bantamweight title eliminator held in Cebu City.
Casimero spent time in the United States last year, where he trained with Morris East, a Filipino former WBA world junior welterweight champ. He had one fight in Tijuana, Mexico, an easy second round TKO win over Jose Pech.
Franco will not be a pushover. He has a high KO percentage and holds the WBO Latino bantamweight title. He has seen action in the U.S. multiple times and he has never been stopped. His last bout was a tenth round knockout win over Panamanian Ricardo Nuñez.
The World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament is still ongoing and it would be interesting to see where Casimero will fit in all of this if he gets past Franco.
Photo- John Riel Casimero after winning his fight against Kenya Yamashita
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