This coming Saturday may be all about "Mayday" and the latest chapter in the Floyd Mayweather Jr story as he takes on Marcos Maidana but for Filipino fans their attention may well be closer to home as one of their world champions, Johnriel Casimero (19-2, 11) defends his IBF Light Flyweight title.
The champion might not be on the same planet of popularity as Manny Pacquiao or even Nonito Donaire but he's a man who infamous through out the boxing world. Sadly Casimero's infamy is less down to him and more down to thuggish behaviour of select fan base in Argentina who hailed him him with chairs in one of the ugliest moments in recent boxing history following his victory over Luis Alberto Lazarte.
Since winning the title, in that aforementioned bout in Argentina, Casimero has been over-looked. He has defended his belt 3 times against good competition defeating Pedro Guevara-in Guevara's native Mexico, Luis Alberto Rios-in Rios's home of Panama and Felipe Salguero-in the Philippines. He will now be looking to add the name of Mauricio Fuentes (16-2, 10) to his record as Fuentes becomes his 4th title challenger.
Fuentes, not to be confused with Mexico's very talented Moises Fuentes, is a little known Colombian fighter who lost 2 of his first 5 fights before running off a pretty looking 13 straight wins. Those wins have allowed him to enter the IBF top 15 despite a real lack of quality and ignoring the fact he has now been inactive for over a year.
Whilst "lack of quality" is a subjective term Fuentes has never beaten a fighter with a winning record, he has never beaten a name opponent, he has never beaten an opponent with any recognisable ranking and has never even fought in a 10, never mind 12, round bout. In fact in 18 bouts the best win on Fuentes's record is likely his 2 wins over Colombian journeyman Alfonso De la Hoz. De La Hoz, currently 13-50-6 (6), is the go to Colombian journeyman who has been in with every emerging fighter the country has had in the lower division over the last decade. The fact Fuentes has beat De La Hoz twice tells us little in all honesty, and that's really his best opponent.
Sadly actual footage of Fuentes is incredibly difficult to come by. Looking at what he's done in his career however it's difficult to see him being any sort of a threat Casimero who is one of the gems of Filipino boxing.
Aged just 24 Casimero has really done a lot more than many fighters older than him. He has already fought on the road in 5 separate countries, he has won a world title on the road and he has shown all the skills that he needs to show for a solid reign. He may not be a super talent, like WBC Light Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue, but he is a genuine talent. He can box, he can move and he can connect with respectable power. It's that power which has seen him stopping world class opponents such as Cesar Canchila, Lazarte and Salguero, and he is getting naturally stronger as he matures to his physical prime.
Whilst Casimero is probably the weakest of the three current world champions at 108lbs, he is still very good and he should have way more than enough to beat Fuentes who is so unproven it's a genuine mystery as to how the IBF can even rank him.
In honesty if Casimero loses here it goes down as the biggest upset of the year by a some margin.
(Image courtesy of boxrec.com)
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