This coming Saturday we'll see the next step towards total unification in the Bantamweight division as WBO champion John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21) takes on WBA "regular" champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1-0-1, 13), essentially ridding us of the pointless and meaningless WBA "regular" title in a division with a busy and active "super" champion. Not only is this a major bout for the division, pitting two of the top 10 against each other, but it's also a brilliant match up from a styles perspective and a match up that really could see any number of outcomes. It could see either man being stopped, it could see one many looking his age or it could see the other having his technical flaws picked away at in embarrassing fashion.
For those who follow the lower weights the career of John Riel Casimero is an interesting one. He was from unknown Filipino hopeful, to journeyman, to being in the middle of riot in Argentina, to being back under the radar despite scoring decent wins, then becoming a 2-weight champion. It really wasn't until he stopped Charlie Edwards that European fans became aware of him, and it wasn't until he knocked out Zolani Tete that he broke through to becoming a notable name. That was despite the fact he had already been a 2-weight champion and had beaten the likes of Cesar Canchila Luis Alberto Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, Mauricio Fuentes and Amnat Ruenroeng. Thankfully since beating Tete he has become one of the most interesting fighters in the lower weights, showing off a flamboyant in ring style, a loud and obnoxious attitude, an incredible amount of trolling towards Naoya Inoue, and a personality that really is hard to ignore. He knows he's got some attention, and he seems desperate to keep a hold of it.
Through out his career Casimero has never been a technical fighter. He's always relied on being quick, powerful and heavy handed. He is, essentially, and explosive puncher, and has the flaws of an explosive crude puncher. Despite those flaws he's also a fighter no one can overlook, and it only takes a single shot from him to turn a fight around, as we saw against Zolani Tete in 2019. He is dangerous, he's experienced, and like a viper he strikes when opponents least expect it. Despite being experienced however he can be rash, he can be open to counters, he can take risks he doesn't need to and he can also sleep walk through bouts, as we saw against Jonas Sultan. He's unpredictable, inconsistent, and whilst he is a brilliant fighter, he can also be very frustrating at times.
Whilst Casimero spent years flying under the radar that was never really the case with Guillermo Rigondeaux. The Cuban turned professional after winning 2 Olympics gold medals and had long been regarded as one of the best amateurs on the planet. He was then moved ultra-aggressively when he began his career, and it was clear that his handlers knew he could be a star he made his professional debut in May 2009 and just 18 months later he beat the very good Ricardo Cordoba for the WBA "interim" Super Bantamweight title. He would win the full version of the title in 2012, and seemed set to become a star. In 2013 he was given a huge bout, facing Nonito Donaire in a WBA/WBO unification bout. It was the door to superstardom, put open for Rigondeaux. The Cuban won, but he didn't put on a show. He instead frustrated fans and the media. His negativity turned fans off, and a follow up defense against Joseph Agbeko saw fans leave the venue, during his main event bout. Since that bout with Agbeko his career has never really recovered. He's been inactive at times, had a career filled with poor decision making, including taking a bout with Vasyl Lomachenko in 2017.
Rigondeaux was groomed to be a star, but poor decisions, horrific management, self sabotage and a frustrating style, saw him fall out with almost every power player in the sport. He went from a fighter who should have been a star, to someone fans didn't want to watch, and opponents didn't want to fight. He was high risk, low reward and provided almost nothing to entice opponents into the ring. Even two world titles wasn't enough to help make fights with him in what was a hot, exciting era at Super Bantamweight.
In recent fights Rigondeaux has taken more risks, he has been caught more and at 40 he is losing a something. He is however a very intelligent fighter, with a counter punchers mentality. His left hand is vicious, and quick, sharp, and powerful. He has one of the best brains in the sport, some of the best counters in the sport and event at 40 he's lighting lighting sharp.
At his best Rigondeaux would have a field day with Casimero. The Cuban would draw leads and avoid them, he'd frustrate Casimero, he's make the Filipino look stupid, rash and like an idiot, before lowering the boom and landing a brutal straight left hand. Casimero would do enough to make the fight watchable, but would be on the wrong end of a beating.
Now a days however it's hard to know what Rigondeaux really has has left. We suspect it's no longer enough to beat a genuine world class fighter. In fact we expect one of Casimero's wild, looping shots will catch the Cuban and lead to him falling apart. And we expect that to happen early in the bout. The longer it goes the more and more comfortable Rigondeaux will get, and we expect Casimero and his team will know that they need to jump on the Cuban quickly and not let him off the hook. If this goes past 5 rounds however Casimero will bee getting timed, and potentially being stopped himself.
Prediction - Casimero TKO3
Some fighters are regarded as being a class above everyone in their division. Fighters like Wladimir Klitschko, Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez. Another of those it Cuban Super Bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9) who is viewed as so good that others in the division do what they can to ignore him, pretending he doesn't exist and that he'll hopefully retire sooner rather than later. Rigondeaux's seen opponents avoid him like the plague and sadly he has seen promoters and TV cast him as the black sheep of boxing. He is, unfortunately, too good for his own good.
With almost all the fighters in the west now avoiding Rigondeaux it was inevitable he would have to fight in the east, at least for now. There were several possibilities for the Cuban though eventually a bout between himself and OPBF Featherweight champion Hisashi Amagasa (28-4-2, 19) was agreed. The story was one of those “wow” stories for boxing fans, similar to Nobuhiro Ishida becoming a heavyweight, and seems to have genuinely gotten Japanese fans talking.
There is a combination of excitement and apprehension regarding Rigondeaux's venture into Japan though what can't be denied is that this big news and a very, very tough fight for Amagasa, who will be hoping to score a huge upset and claim the WBO and WBA "super" Super Bantamweight titles.
For those who have seen Rigondeaux in action they will know what to expect. He is incredibly skilled, in fact his skills are probably the best of any fighter on the planet. Sadly those skills are combined with a very negative attitude to the combat aspect of boxing and instead of showing off his skills in offensive showcases, as we see with Gonzalez and Golovkin, Rigondeaux would rather box completely off the back foot, neutralising foes with footwork and attempting to take opponents out with single laser like straight left hands. It's pure boxing at it's finest but it can be dull and highly frustrating, especially given Rigondeaux's ability.
As frustrating as he is Rigondeaux really seems to have all the skills a fighter would wish for. He is an explosive puncher, has cat like reflexes, perfect balance, amazing timing and unbelievable speed. Sadly he has flaws that regard his mentality, which is certainly against putting on a show, and perceived issues regarding durability, having been dropped several times in his career. When he's feeling offensive Rigondeaux is a joy to watch and every bit as enjoyable as Roman Gonzalez, but sadly those moments are few and far between leaving many wishing to see more offense from the Cuban.
Rigondeaux is well known, even if he isn't well liked. The same cannot be said of Amagasa who is the OPBF Featherweight champion though is hardly known outside of his native Japan.
For those who don't know about about him Amagasa is a lanky fighter, stood at around 5'10” he was a taller Featherweight and, as he's dropping down to Super Bantamweight for this bout, will look stupidly tall for this bout against a much shorter foe. Sadly the Japanese fighter rarely makes the best use of his height and often comes in swinging wide shots rather than pumping out a sharp jab. If Amagasa had had a reliable and sharp jab he would be a real force on the world scene with his looping shots he often makes himself look beatable with recent foe Ryo Takenaka almost over-coming in his most recent bout.
Although technically limited Amagasa is an aggressive type of fighter with nasty power and he has scored some wonderful looking knockouts, most notable of which came against Koji Nagata back in 2009, courtesy of a brutal uppercut. Of course with his wing span and wide shots he has the ability to land from unusual angles, something that makes his power even more potent. As well as his power he has great work rate, seems to be tough and has real desire to reach the top.
We suspect, like everyone else, that Rigondeaux will be too good, too smart, too sharp and too quick for Amagasa. In fact even the Japanese fighter himself has suggested he only has 1% chance of upsetting that talented Cuban. Despite all the advantages there is a chance, albeit a very small one, that Amagasa may be able to connect with one of his wild swings. It's unlikely but possible that he could connect and send Rigondeaux down and out.
We're expecting an easy looking Rigondeaux win, either by wide decision or by a late stoppage, probably from a body shot. If Amagasa wins however he may well have notched up the upset of the year in one of the final bouts of the year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
We are huge fans of the Top Rank Macau shows. We'll admit they aren't the best shows, they don't often have the best fights on them nor do they seem to be all that "packed" in terms of match ups. What they do do however is show case some Asian fighters ranging from future stars like Ryota Murata to fringe contenders like Yasutaka Ishimoto, from rising prospects like Rex Tso to tough journeymen like Mako Matsuyama.
On July 19th we see the next Macau card, a show dubbed "Champions of Gold", which features 3 Olympic champions including the amazingly skilled Guillermo Rigondeaux (13-0, 8). Rigondeaux, who has butted heads with Top Rank in recent months, will be taking on an Asian veteran in the form of 37 year old Sod Kokietgym (63-2-1, 28) in a defence of the WBA and WBO Super Bantamweight titles that the Cuban currently holds.
Although very highly experienced in terms of fights, both as a boxer and in Muay Thai Sod isn't a world class boxer. His 63 wins have, on the whole, come against limited imports to Thailand such as Adones Aguelo, Falazona Fidal and Randy Megrino and although he has only lost twice in 66 bouts both losses came to a man that we all know, Daniel Ponce De Leon.
In the first bout between Sod and and Ponce De Leon we saw the Thai give Ponce De Leon real problem, dropping him in the bout though taking a narrow loss. In a rematch however once De Leon showed his power and stopped Sod in amazing fashion to enhance his reputation as one of the heaviest handed fighters in the sport at that time.
Sadly since the losses to Ponce De Leon we've not seen Sod take on a single notable opponent, instead he had been happy to run up a 37 fight unbeaten streak, including 36 wins. Sadly it's not just been a lack of "notable" opponents on Sod's record but also quality opponents. Instead of progressing with experience the slow looking Sod has been beating limited foes that have almost allowed him to regress in the ring despite picking up the victories.
In regards to Rigondeaux we have one of the the true master boxers. If you're a fan of the sweet science and the ideas behind "hit and don't get hit" then Rigondeaux is your cup of tea though his lack of aggression and risk taking can often make his bouts appear tedious, especially given his exceptional skill and speed. It's this tedium of Rigondeaux that has seen the fighter and his promoter and TV giant HBO all fall out. Rigondeaux, for all his talent, can't keeps fans entertained or keep fans in an arena, as we saw in his stink fest with Joseph Agbeko.
The issues between Rigondeaux and his promoter have seen the two parties almost put together this bout to end Rigondeaux's contract. It appears that the bout, for all intents and purposes will be the last time Rigondeaux ever works with Top Rank. Unfortunately for the talented Cuban it's a bout he can't win even if he takes an amazingly impressive victory in the ring.
Priced as a prohibitive favourite at 1/100, or -10000 for our American readers, with some British sports books this is a bout that Rigondeaux is so favoured to win that many feel he need just step in the ring to win. Unfortunately by being involved in such a perceived mismatch Rigondeaux will be slated however he wins. If he beats Sod quickly it'll be a case if "well that was expected" whilst if he puts on a 12 round clinic people will say that he should have stopped Sod. It really is a no win situation.
The differences between the two men are massive. Sod is slow, clumsy, defensively poor, lacks power, and although he has experience he's developed more bad habits than almost any other fighter out there. In comparison Rigondeaux is lightning quick, almost flawless in his defence and has serious power when he lets his shots go, in fact the Cuban's left hand, when he throws it with real with conviction, is a thing of real beauty.
We're thinking that the straight left of Rigondeaux will be the key here and with the bad habits Sod has, including dropping his hands when he throws a shot, it could be a very early night with Rigondaux almost certain to land the left as a counter early on. Sod's chin isn't awful in fairness but we don't see him standing up to many of the powerful left hand shots of the Cuban and this really could be over very quickly if Rigondeaux feels like making a statement.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.