By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Over the weekend, the Filipino Flash showed that he may be a lion in winter, but he is still a lion. The highlight reel knockout of Stephon Young of the U.S. was what the doctor ordered for the 36 year old Nonito Donaire.
Donaire has a resume that will certainly make him a first ballot Hall of Famer. But after dropping out of everyone’s pound for pound list following losses to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux and Jamaican Nicholas Walters five years ago, there were those who thought his best years were behind him. He dropped down from 126 to 122 lbs and captured the WBO junior featherweight title with a courageous performance against Mexican Cesar Juarez in 2014.
In one of his defenses against Hungarian Zsolt Bedak, Donaire set a gate record in Cebu, Philippines where the crowd was estimated to go beyond 30,000.
But after losing his title to Jessie Magdaleno of the U.S in 2016 followed by last year’s lost to U.K.’s Carl Frampton in his attempt to go back to 126 lbs, many thought his career as a top fighter was over.
Last year, he announced he was moving down in weight once again to 118 lbs and join the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) bantamweight tournament. Many doubted if he could pull it off. The last time he fought as a bantamweight was in 2011.
But last November, Donaire won another world title belt when Ryan Burnett decided not to continue fighting in Glasgow, Scotland. Donaire had the WBA super title in his hands and a semis slot in the WBSS. Was it just a lucky break?
He was a dominant boxer from 112 to 118 lbs but many still refer to him in the past tense.
In the semis, he was faced with another injury situation in Louisiana when WBO champ Zolani Tete of South Africa withdrew just days going into fight because of a shoulder injury. Young was tapped as a substitute and he did make a good account of himself in the early rounds.
But a right hand lead from Donaire stunned the southpaw Young near the end of the third round. Donaire stepped on the pressure in the fourth and at the end of the round, Young had the look of a beaten man walking to his corner.
Donaire continued to dish out punishment in the fifth and in the sixth, Young dropped his right hand for a split second and that was all that Donaire need to land his fabled left hook.
It was lights out for the Young and Donaire now awaits the winner of Japan’s Naoya Inoue vs Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez. Outside of Rodriguez’s immediate relatives, fans are expecting a Donaire (40-5,26KO’s) vs Inoue (17-0, 15KO’s) finals.
Inoue is ten years younger than Donaire. Aside from the WBA regular bantamweight title belt, he has won the WBC light flyweight and WBO junior bantamweight titles. Inoue, a.k.a. the “Monster”, is arguably the most fearsome puncher in the lighter weight divisions today.
Donaire has been in high pressure situations before. He was an unknown in 2007 when he knocked out Vic Darchinyan of Australia for the IBF flyweight title. He has beaten challengers who have held world title belts like South Africans Moruti Mthalane , Mexicans Hernan Marquez ,Fernando Montiel and Jorge Arce, Puerto Rican Wilfredo Vasquez,Jr, Argentine Omar Narvaez and Japanese Toshiaki Nishioka. The list of the world titles he has won is long – IBF flyweight, WBA interim super flyweight, WBO and WBC bantamweight, WBO and IBF junior featherweight, WBA featherweight, his current WBA bantamweight super title and WBC Diamond belt.
It would be unwise to count him out again.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Filipino boxers Joe Noynay and John Riel Casimero delivered big victories in overseas fights last weekend. Noynay garnered another regional title when he stopped Japanese Kosuke Saka in two rounds for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific junior lightweight title at the Edion Arena in Osaka, Japan.
“I wasn’t expecting the fight to end early. But I caught him early, knocked him down twice in the first, the referee stopped it in the second.” Noynay told this writer.
Noynay may be elated with his win but he isn’t thinking about a world title shot just yet. “That really depends…I will just continue to train hard.”
Noynay is now 17W-2L-1D,6KO’s while Saka drops to 18W-5L,15KO’s.
The current WBO world champion in the 130lb division is a Japanese, Masayuki Ito. Prior to this win, the WBO had Noynay at number ten in their latest rankings. Noynay also exorcised the ghost of his loss in Japan when he lost a unanimous decision to Reiya Abe at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
The 23 year old southpaw from Bogo,Cebu, previously held the Youth version of the WBO Asia Pacific title. Two years ago, Noynay was an underdog in Zhongshan,China when he took the Youth regional belt from previously unbeaten Chinese Pan Jinxiang by eighth round technical decision.
Last year, he returned to his hometown of Bogo and defended his WBO regional belt against Mexican Hector Garcia and prevailed by majority decision.
On the same date in a different time zone, former two-division IBF world champion John Riel Casimero rose to the occasion in his U.S. debut and beat erstwhile WBO number one contender Ricardo Espinoza Franco by TKO in the twelfth and final round for the vacant WBO interim world bantamweight title.
Casimero was ranked number six going into this bout that was initially reported to be for the WBO International belt.
But it was reported four days before the contest that it will be for the interim world title. The current WBO champion, South African Zolani Tete, is currently tied up with the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament.
Casimero had to leave without trainer Jhun Agrabio, who had visa issues. Former WBO light flyweight champ, Rodel Mayol stepped up to work in his corner. Casimero left the Philippines ten pounds over the limit but Mayol told this writer that three days before the weigh-in that Casimero would make weight. And he did, at 116.8lbs while the much taller Ricardo Espinoza weighed 117.8lbs.
Agrabio told this writer after the fight that Casimero stuck to their game plan. But, before the fight was stopped the scores after eleven rounds were 105 - 103 Casimero, 105 - 103 Espinoza and 104 – 104. This underscores the heart of toughness of Casimero.
Casimero is now 27-4,18KO’s. Espinoza is 23-3,20KO’s.
What made this win more amazing was that it was only two months ago that he confidently stated that he would be targeting another belt at 118 lbs.
“It was Casimero being a veteran that made the difference in this bout.” Mayol stated.
The 30 year old Casimero, from Ormoc, Leyte, previously held a WBO interim world title in the junior flyweight division.
He captured IBF world titles at junior flyweight and flyweight. He is a noted road warrior, having previously seen action in eight different countries. He is also known for surviving an infamous ring riot in Argentina in 2012.
We will wait and see what happens next and how he will fit in after the WBSS tournament is over.
Photo – Joe Noynay (left) and Johnriel Casimero
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
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
DUBAI,UAE- The Emirates Golf Club in Dubai hosted a well-attended international fight card Friday with eleven bouts and two major ranking belts at stake. Interest in the sport of boxing is growing in this part of the world. Dubai is inhabited by a majority of expats, many of which come from countries where boxing has enjoyed a huge popularity.
The show billed as “The Fight-DXB Uncovered” was made possible by the partnership of Dubai’s Round 10 Boxing Club and MTK Global as well as ESPN AND Top Rank.
The local attraction was Majid Al-Naqbi, who beat Vladmir Lytkin, a Russian based in Thailand, by TKO in round four. This was Al-Naqbi’s professional debut. He stated in his post-fight ring interview that he is only the second in Dubai’s history to fight as a pro. He overpowered his Russian opponent, decked him in the final round and the referee had to step in to avoid further damage.
The lightweight Al-Naqbi was the main reason why Dubai royalty were in attendance. But he attracted boxing royalty as well, with former world champ “Prince” Naseem Hamed seated at ringside for the historic outdoor event.
The headline bout saw Dubai-based Nigerian Aliu Bamidele “Lucky Boy” Lasisi get off the canvas to score a grueling twelve round unanimous decision over Ricardo Blandon of Nicaragua.
Blandon knocked down Lasisi at the end of round three and Lasisi was also deducted a point for a head butt in round four. But Lasisi stormed back and dropped a fading Blandon in round ten to pull out a 114-111 win on all three cards and the vacant WBC International belt.
Lassisi is now 13-0,8KO’s. Blandon goes down to 10-2,6KO’s.
In the battle for the vacant WBO European featherweight crown, Irishman David Oliver Joyce (10-0, 8 KOs) kept his unbeaten record when he stopped Scotsman Stephen Tiffney (10-2, 4 KOs) in the seventh round.
For the rest of the action packed undercards – Dubai based Filipino expat Larry Abarra beat Ghanaian Raymond Commey by unanimous decision, Afghan Hassibulah Ahmadi got a split decision against Thai Manut Comput.
Kazakh Sultan Zaurbek was impressive and he caught China’s Chenghong Tao with a sneaky right to the jaw and knocked him out in the fifth, Uzbekistan featherweight Shakhobidin Zoirov, who captured a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, won his pro debut with a first round stoppage of Anthony Holt of Indonesia, Australian Mateo Tapia stopped Gaganpreet Sharma of India in the eighth round, Abilkahiyr Shegaliyev of Kazakhstan beat Trimuraz Abuladze of Georgia by TKO in the opening round, Saudi Arabian Zuhayr Al Qahtani won by unanimous decision over Indian Sk Saheb, and in a female boxing match, Armenian Anahit Aroyan beat Thai Nongnum Sor Praithong by unanimous verdict.
Dubai has hosted big events in the past. In 2013, at their World Trade Center, the first world male champion from China, Xiong Chaozhong, retain his WBC straweight title against Filipino Denver Cuello by majority decision.
But regular sanctioned pro cards have been few and far in between. In 2014 and 2015, ALA Promotions of the Philippines brought in their star boxers in a show packed by the Filipino workers living in Dubai. There were always rumors of Manny Pacquiao fighting in Dubai but it never happened.
Boxrec records show that there was only one Dubai fight card in 2018, none in 2017, with two small shows in 2016.
But now they have a local hero to root for in the person of Majid Al-Naqbi. And with the partnership of Dubai’s Round 10 Boxing Club and MTK Global, this could very ignite a boxing boom.
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.