PBC is, at times, brilliant, with some great match making, competitive fights and big names facing off. Sometimes however the whole PBC series is a mess with mismatches, over-payment to certain fighters and other fights being included on shows due to favours, and not actually getting the TV exposure they deserve.
We saw a case of that last night when PBC failed to televise a thrilling, up and down war between John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) and Ricardo Espinoza Franco (23-3, 20) for the WBO "interim" Bantamweight title.
The bout, which had only had it's title confirmed this past week by the WBO, looked like an amazing match up on paper. It had a talented Filipino looking to become a "3-weight champion" and a big punching Mexican, who was in great form. It had the ingredients to be one of the best bouts of the weekend and looked wonderfully competitive, unlike many of the bouts which did actually get television coverage.
Whilst we could sit and bemoan things that we didn't get, we would love to congratulate the fans who were able to catch the fight from the crowd, as they got a treat. A treat they had had to watch for, a treat that has been worth staying at the venue for.
The Mexican fighter started fast, taking the early rounds with his aggression, forcing Casimero to soak up the heat. The Filipino veteran, a true road warrior, showed his experience boxing on the back foot, holding when he needed to blunt the threat of Espinoza and countering well. As the Mexican's intensity fell it was going to give Casimero openings and that happened in rounds 5 and 6 as Casimero began to have more success. The power of Casimero, which has always been thudding to say the least, paid off in round 6 when he dropped the Mexican with a hard right hook towards the end of the bell.
Espinoza began to pick the pace back up after the knockdown, knowing he had to swing momentum back in his direction. That however came at a cost, and the Mexican was needing to work harder and harder to try and take Casimero down.
Heading into the final round it seemed like an ultra close one. There was seemingly little to pick between the men. Espinoza had been the aggressor, but the knockdown and smart counter boxing of Casimero had been winning him rounds. It seemed like both knew it was close, but a big combination early in the final round from Casimero took the judges out of the bout, dropping Espinoza for the second time. That, along, should have been enough, but Casimero didn't want to take any risks, and jumped on Espinoza after he beat the count, forcing the referee to stop the action.
The scores going into the final round, for those interested, were 105-103, 103-105 and 104-104, meaning it really was amazingly well balanced heading into the final 3 minutes.
With the win Casimero claims his third "world title", and sets himself up for the winner of the WBSS, meaning a potential clash with Zolani Tete, Nonito Donaire, Emmanuel Rodriguez or Naoya Inoue, though he is one of a growing queue to get a shot at the eventual tournament winner.
It seems that if we talk about top Filipino fighters one man is always forgotten. John Riel Casimero (19-2, 11), the current IBF Light Flyweight champion. So over looked is Casimero that many fans didn't even seem to realise he was in action this past weekend.
Sure Casimero will never be in the same bracket as superstars Nonito Donaire or Manny Pacquiao, but he doesn't even seem to be in consciousness of many fans.
Despite being the over-looked man of Filipino boxing Casimero showed what he was capable of as he defended his world title for the third time. Facing tough Mexican Felipe Salguero (18-5-1, 13) we expected Casimero to really pushed hard. Salguero did, after all, give Donnie Neites a very tough contest last time he fought a Filipino.
Amazingly, considering the fight Salguero gave Nietes, Casimero dominated his challenger and put on a performance that should remind Filipino fans just what a talent this youngster is.
Casimero started the fight by taking advantage of Salguero's stylistic issues. Salguero likes to set his feet and load up on shots and instead of standing in front of him Casimero used movement and accurate shots to disrupt the balance and timing of the Mexican. It wasn't exciting early on but it was cleaver with Casimero just managing to do enough to take the rounds.
The champion showed a different facet to his game in the middle rounds as he started to step up and fight Salguero in round 5. It was in this round that Casimero began to look like the champion hammering Salguero with several hard stinging shots from either hand. It appeared, several times, that Casimero had hurt the challenger though he couldn't, legally, put the challenger down.
In round 6 Casimero again had notable success cutting Salguero, who was still looking tough but was starting to eat punches. It seemed that if Casimero could find just one more gear he was going to be able to the Mexican out early.
Despite the successes in rounds 5 and 6 for the champion he was given a scare in the seventh as Salguero rocked him with a right hand, scoring his most notable moment of success. Unfortunately for Salguero that was about it for his success as Casimero rode out the storm and came back with a vengeance dropping the Mexican in the following round.
Although Salguero managed to pick himself off the canvas in round 8 it was obvious he was coming undone. He was still as game as they came but he was now feeling the effects of Casimero's uppercuts which again came in to play in round 9 as the challenger was dropped for the second time.
Despite the two knockdowns Salguero refused to give up and tried his best to fightback in round 10. Unfortunately for him the tenth was just a momentarily break in the beating he was beginning to suffer. Casimero turned the gas back on in round 11 sending Salguero down again with a combination. This time the referee had decided enough was enough and waved off the bout. It was almost certain that, given the chance, Salguero would have continued but though he would have taken a lot more punishment than he'd of given Casimero who looked sensational at times.
Although Casimero managed to make a statement defending his Light Flyweight title it appears that it could be his final bout at the weight. He hinted that making the 108lb limit was difficult and with that in mind a move to Flyweight would be likely.
Unfortunately the Flyweight division is one of the sports very best divisions and appears to only be getting tougher. Not only does it have world champions like Akira Yaegashi, Juan Francisco Estrada, Juan Carlos Reveco and Moruti Mthalane but also a host of excellent championship level fighters such as Edgar Sosa, Hernan Marquez, Brian Viloria, Milan Melindo, Rocky Fuentes, Koki Eto and Roman Gonzalez. If Casimero is forced up he will likely struggle to compete at the elite level, if he can stay at Light Flyweight however there are interesting bouts out there that he'd be favoured in.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.