One thing we haven't seen a lot of over the years are all-Filipino world title bouts, and that's a real shame. Whilst we understand, begrudgingly, champions from the same country not unifying titled what we never understand it why fighters form the same country seem to rarely face off. At least for some countries. And the Philippines is the worse country for this. With that in mind we had a think about some of the bouts we wish we'd had and came up with our latest "Fight we wish we had". Unlike some fights this one doesn't have FOTY written all over it, but would still be a very, very intriguing match up.
Donnie Nietes Vs Johnriel Casimero
As mentioned we don't see Filipino's fighting each other in world title bouts very often, unlike in the UK, US and Mexico, and more recently Japan. That's despite some bouts looking too obvious not to make, and this was one of those obvious ones. Not only was it an obvious match up between one of the most talented fighters and one of the most explosive, but it was also a match up but it was also one that could have taken place at any of 3 different weight classes. In one corner would have been Donnie Nietes, one of the most well schooled and technically brilliant Filipino fighters every, whilst the other corner would have had the wild, explosive and hard hitting Johnriel Casimero. It would have been a clash between a veteran and a hot young stud, and would have been a mouth watering clash, in terms of era and styles.
The window for when this fight could have taken place really is huge, and in theory is still technically open, but appears to on the verge of closing. In theory the bout could have taken place as early as 2009, when Nietes was considering a move up from Minimumweight to Light Flyweight and whilst Casimero was a regional Light Flyweight champion. In 2010 Casimero was WBO interim champion at 108lbs and Nietes was dipping his toes at the weight.
Had it been a little later they could have clashed at Flyweight. Nietes moved up to the weight in 2016 whilst Casimero had been there since 2014. Interestingly Casimero held the IBF Flyweight title in 2016, but vacated it in 2017 before Nietes won it. That would have been the perfect time, early 2017.
The window for the fight then actually continues into 2018 when the two could have clashed at Super Flyweight. If they were to clash now, in 2020, the bout could take place at Bantamweight, but if we're being hones the bout has lost a lot of it's potential appeal, with Nietes now the wrong side of 40 and almost 2 years removed from his last bout.
Donnie Nietes is arguable the most under-rated fighter from 2000 to 2020. He is one of the most skilled and well schooled fighters out there, and someone who proved that being a defensively responsible little guy to really prolong a career. He managed to become of the very few fighters to win world titles at Minimumweight, Light Flyweight, Flyweight and Super Flyweight and did so without having lightning speed or thunderous power. He did on his ring craft, boxing skills, and IQ.
Although there was a lot of potential opponents Nietes should have faced he did go in with a genuine who's who and took wins against Pornsawan Porpramook, Jesus Silvestre, Mario Rodriguez, Moises Fuentes, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Edgar Sosa, Juan Carlos Revecco and Kazuto Ioka. Not only did he fight a who's who but he also showed a willingness to travel, picking up wins in Mexico, USA and Macau, though didn't really get the reputation of a road warrior. In terms of skills he is criminally under-rated and knew how to adapt when he needed to. A genuinely intelligent fighter.
Whilst Nietes is a 4 weight world champion Johnriel Casimero is a 3-weight world champion, having taken titles titles at Light Flyweight, Flyweight and Bantamweight. Watching him you see almost the opposite of Nietes. Casimero is a wild man at times, a freakish puncher who could box, but often found himself believing more in his power than his skills. His biggest issues wasn't his belief in his power but instead his inconsistencies and professionalism, which actually resulted in his being stripped of a title, looking poor in some bouts and even losing a bout he should have won.
At his best Casimero was a thunderous puncher who showed no fear. He was a road warrior who travelled right around the globe to face a who's who. He travelled to face the likes of Moruti Mthalane, Luis Alberto Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, Amnat Ruenroeng, Charlie Edwards and Zolani Tete. He's very much a throw back, but again inconsistency has been an issue, and in 2017 he lost to Jonas Sultan in a world title eliminator at Super Flyweight. When he was on point he was brilliant, but there was always the worry that we were going to see him have an off night, fail to prepare properly, as he had for his 2014 clash with Mauricio Fuentes, or just not show what he could do.
How would we see it playing out?
The reality here is that we see this being a bout depending on what Casimero turns up. At his very best Casimero is a very hard man to pick against. He was so heavy handed, so quick and so explosive that he had the power to pretty much taken out anyone, and was so unpredictable in his offense that he had a chance to catch anyone clean. On the other hand we know what we'd be getting from Nietes, he was Mr Consistent. He put on solid performance after solid performance, and even against the best Casimero his skills and defense could prove to be a difference maker.
We would expect Casimero trying to box Nietes early on, a poor tactical choice from the younger man but one that showed he wanted to be more than a puncher. We saw that from him numerous times, including his career defining win over Zolani Tete. As the bout went on however we'd see more aggression and more power shots from Casimero, as he changed from boxer to puncher. That would leave him open to Nietes' counter shots and we sispect that those would prove to be the difference as the bout went on, with Nietes slowly breaking down his countryman.
Although we do favour Nietes it should be noted that Casimero is almost a decade younger than Nietes and that age gap could be a tricky obstacle to over-come, even for Nietes. The speed and power edges of Casimero will mean he's always dangerous, he's always in the bout, and he'll only be one shot from turning things around, but Nietes is not an easy man to land that big shot on.
Would history of been changed?
Depending on when the bout took place history could have been very, very different. Had they faced off earlier in the window Nietes' experience and boxing skills would likely have slowed Casimero ascent drastically. He would almost certainly have done a similar job on Casimero that Moruti Mthalane did, and just mentally break Casimero. Had that happened Casimero may never have become the fighter he later became.
Had the bout been in 2016 we would likely have seen Nietes claim the Flyweight title a bit earlier, sending Casimero up in weight a bit earlier and maybe even avoided Casimero's stinking effort against Jonas Sultan. Had that happened there's a good chance that Casimero may have found himself fighting for a Super Flyweight title at some point, maybe even leading the two men to a rematch at 115lbs.
Had the bout been in 2017 or 2018 there's a chance that we would never have seen Casimero make an impact at Bantamweight, and we would almost certainly have not had his upset win over Zolani Tete, leading to a very different look at the Bantamweight scene.
Of course had Casimero managed to beat Nietes at any point his career would have been very different and we wouldn't be talking about Nietes as being so under-rated. Instead we'd be talking about Casimero, potentially, being a pound for pound fighter. Their careers would look very different on reflection.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces