In recent years the Flyweight division has been a weird division, with no one really making it their division. We've have fighters like Juan Francisco Estrada, Brian Viloria and Roman Gonzalez all fighting some top names there, but in reality we've not seen someone look to make the division their home since Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Many of the top fighters in the division have merely passed through the division, with the likes of Kazuto Ioka, Donnie Neites and Kosei Tanaka all making relatively short stays there. As a result we've missed out on a lot of bout that could have taken place there. Today we look at one such missed opportunity for the division.
Johnriel Casimero Vs Zou Shiming
The bout we want to talk about today is a show down between Johnriel Casimero, another man whose stop in the division was a short one, and Chinese star Zou Shiming, who had the potential to face pretty much anyone he wanted. Not only was this a potential all-Asian match up but it was also one that would have pitted two very different styles against each other, could have acted as a unification bout and would almost certainly have helped bring one fighter to the public attention years before he really broke through to a wider audience.
In reality the window for this one is quite a short one. We would have pencilled in an early to mid 2017 date for it, though in reality there is a bit more flexibility to it than that. Casimero won the IBF Flyweight title in May 2016, doing so in China, and Shiming won the WBO Flyweight title 6 months later in the US. Sadly neither man managed a lengthy reign, with Casimero defending the title once before moving up in weight in 2017 whilst Shiming lost in his first defense, to Sho Kimura. Despite that there was a window for the bout and, had Casimero been offered a Shiming Showdown, we suspect he would have remained at the weight for longer than he did.
Filipino slugger Johnriel Casimero is one of the sports true road warriors and a multi-weight world champion. He won his first world title at Light Flyweight, surviving a post fight riot following a bout with Luis Alberto Lazarte, and would later go on to stop Amnat Ruenroeng and Zolani Tete to claim world titles at Flyweight and Bantamweight respectively. At his best he's a speedy, hard hitting, awkward and unorthodox puncher with true bang in his shots. At other times however he's a disinterested fighter who's very frustrating to watch and seems to be stuck in first gear.
Zou Shiming on the other hand is China's most accomplished amateur boxer who turned professional with Top Rank to much fanfare, though the good will of this Chinese hopeful didn't last long. Sadly for Shiming his amateur style was engrained and he turned professional far to late, and with too many nagging injuries, to ever become the star Top Rank had wanted. He was a quick, skilled fighter, but one who had little power, lacked the physicality and potentially even fought at the wrong weight, as he would likely have looked a lot better had he been able to move down to Light Flyweight.
Going back to when, and even explaining the where. With Casimero winning his IBF Flyweight title in China, and being a well known road warrior, and with Shiming being a Chinese fighter this bout would have made for a great event in late January 2017 as part of the Chinese new Year celebrations.
How would we see it playing out?
This is a bout where I we saw the best of both men we could be in for a very, very interesting match up between two talented fighters with very different styles. Shiming's speed and movement could be a problem for pretty much anyone, and his brain is a valuable asset at this level. Sadly though his lack of power will be a problem and he always struggled to keep fighters honest. Against a fighter like Casimero, who often lunges and throws unpredictable shots we see Shiming's boxing brain being neutralised quickly and Shiming needing to rely on his amateur fencing style.
If Casimero is not at his best we could be in for a bit of a stinker. He could sleep walk through much of the fight, letting Shiming run up an early lead and then we'd see Shiming in sruvival mode late on, cruising to a decision. It's a result we don't imagine would do the sport any good, but it's a very real real possibility with Casimero's inconsistencies.
On the other hand if Casimero was in the right mood he would stalk, cut the ring off, and press Shiming. We suspect an aggressive Casimero would take out Shiming in the middle to late rounds, with his power, speed and aggression being too much for the Chinese fighter.
One thing to note, is that for a bout like this, we would expect to see Casimero well and truly on form.
Would history of been changed?
Yes! History would look a lot different today had we got this bout. If Shiming won, and it's not the result we would expect, we would likely have seen Chinese boxing have a huge shot in the arm and we suspect we would have seen more sustained and continued investment in the countrie's boxing scene. It would however have only been a matter of time before things crashed down around Shiming, who was in his mid 30's and suffering from injuries.
Had Casimero won we would be looking at his career, and the Flyweight division, very differently. Had Casimero won he would likely have never faced Charlie Edwards, as his two titles would have drawn the attention of bigger names. He would have been a well known international name before his 2019 upset win over Zolani Tete. He would likely have never made his rather pointless foray into the Super Flyweight division, or if he had he would have gone straight into a big bout, not an eliminator with Jonas Sultan, which he of course lost.
More tellingly if Shiming had lost the WBO belt to Casimero we would almost have certainly not see Sho Kimura announce himself and become a world champion, with Kimura ending the reign of Shiming's to become the champion. If that bout failed to happen we would likely have gotten Casimero facing Toshiyuki Igarashi in a WBO mandatory, in a fight that would have truly stunk, and never ended up with the thrilling bout between Kimura and Kosei Tanaka. In fact we may never have seen Kosei Tanaka even win a Flyweight title.
Whilst we would have loved seeing Casimero make a name for himself in 2017 with a win over Shiming, which is what we would expect had this bout taken place, we can't complain too much about the reality we got. If anything, we got the better reality,, thanks to the Kimura Vs Tanaka fight!
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