By Rene Bonsubre,jr
It was weekend like no other in the Philippines. Back to back title fights in different locations in Metro Manila and a champion defending his title overseas. When the dust settled, it was only John Riel Casimero who still had a world title belt around his waist.
Casimero faced Mexican visitor Cesar Ramirez at the San Andres Sports Center in Malate,Manila. Both boxers were hesitant to trade bombs at the start. Casimero’s left scored a flash knockdown in the third and there was a questionable knockdown in the fifth also against Ramirez. In between, Ramirez had his best moments on the outside, using his jab and landing quick one-two combos.
But Casimero was successful in turning it into a street fight. They took turns staggering each other but this type of battle was Casimero’s world. It brought back memories of Casimero’s nasty brawl and TKO win against Luis Alberto Lazarte in Argentina seven years ago.
In the seventh, Casimero blasted Ramirez through the ropes. A KO ending was looming. In the 10th a faded Ramirez succumbed and fell flat after being hit by a clean right to the jaw. Referee Ramon Peña correctly signaled the end as Ramirez (18-4,11KO’s) spent a few minutes lying on the canvas.
Aside from retaining the interim WBO title, Casimero (28-W-4L,19KO’s) earned the right to fight WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete of South Africa within ninety days.
Carlo Caesar Peñalosa could not capitalize his homecourt advantage and succumbed to the pressure fighting Mexican Maximino Flores. Peñalosa was on the back foot for most of the fight, seeking refuge on the ropes and preferring to counter. Flores continued to swing for the body, not thinking whether his punches were blocked or not, as long as he kept going forward.
An accidental clash of heads lead to a cut on Peñalosa’s left eye. The ring doctor allowed the fight to continue and Flores continued to control the action. Peñalosa landed clean shots but Flores just walked through them.
There was a weird moment after the sixth round when the Aussie referee Garry Dean announced the fight was stopped and was going to the scorecards. There was a miscommunication with the ring doctor who said he did not recommend the stoppage just yet.
The fight continued in the seventh after a brief protest by the Mexican camp. Peñalosa couldn’t do anything to change the complexion of the fight and it was stopped at the end of the round. The scores – Judges Jerrold Tomeldan (Philippines) and Adam Height (Australia) had it for Flores 68-65 and 67-66 respectively and Kevin Pyne (New Zealand) had it 67-66 for Peñalosa.
The fight for the vacant IBO world flyweight title was promoted by Carlo’s uncle, former two-division world champion Gerry Peñalosa and held at the TV5 Studio in Quezon City.
It seemed this was a case of Flores (25-4-1,17KO’s) simply having experienced better competition, previously losing to Andrew Selby of the U.K.and Filipino Milan Melindo. It will be back to the drawing boards for the 26 year old Peñalosa (14-2,7KO’s) who suffers his second pro loss.
Vic Saludar’s career seemed to be headed for greater heights after winning twice in Japan. But mandatory challenger Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez had other plans. Saludar defended the WBO minimumweight crown on Mendez’s home turf in San Juan,Puerto Rico and left an ex-champion.
Mendez (14-1,5KO’s) danced and jabbed his way to victory. Saludar’s left knocked him down in the fifth but this was near the end of the round and there was no time to follow it up. The trend continued wherein the southpaw Mendez circled effectively away from Saludar’s power right. He clinched when Saludar (19-4,10KO’s) got too close for comfort.
Mendez’s strategy was reminiscent of another Puerto Rican miniflyweight, Ivan Calderon. The scores at the end - 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112.
Saludar’s trainer Jojo Palacios could not make the trip to Puerto Rico because of visa issues. Filipino-Hawaiian Bobby Villaver, an experienced cornerman who made a name in Thailand, was Palacios’ replacement.
ULTIMATE BOXING SERIES
The undercard of the Penalosa-Flores fight saw the finals of the Ultimate Boxing Series tournament. The audience was treated to two close fiercely fought eight rounders.
April Jay Abne won the flyweight category with a majority decision win over Ronel Sumalpong while Lienard Sarcon was on the top of the bantamweights after beating Aljum Pelesio also by majority verdict.
PHOTO – Left to right – John Riel Casimero, Vic Saludar and Carlo Peñalosa
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