The Bantamweight division is currently one of the most interesting, with a host of brilliant match ups to be made, a number that are already on the horizon. Bouts like Naoya Inoue Vs Nonitor Donaire and Nordine Oubaali Vs Takuma Inoue are both fantastic bouts, and with the likes of Zolani Tete, Luis Nery, Liborio Solis, Jason Moloney and Reymart Gaballo all looking for a big fight the division really is red hot.
This coming Saturday the divisional talent overflow is in action as the WBO "interim" champion John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) defends his belt against Mexican challenger Cesar Ramirez (18-3, 11). Whilst Casimero is the "lesser" of the WBO champions, behind Tete, it's been almost a year since Tete has been in the ring and it's unclear when he will return. The winner of this bout will be waiting for Tete's return to the ring, though by then may have found themselves being upgraded by the WBO.
Casimero won the interim title earlier this year, when he scored a 12th round win over Ricardo Espinoza Franco to become a "3 weight world champion", adding this title to reigns at Light Flyweight and Flyweight. Although the win over Franco wasn't televised footage from it leaked online and it was an enthralling fight, with Casimero finally finishing off Franco in the final round of a bout that was incredibly close. That win was Casimero's second as a fully fledged Flyweight, following a February win over Japanese foe Kenya Yamashita, and in that bout Casimero looked sharp, dangerous and like he really meant business. At times though Casimero has looked uninterested, bored and like he's lacked motivation. When the motivation is there he's fantastic, but he really does need a fire under his ass.
Despite being a rather lazy and frustrating fighter at times Casimero is a real natural talent, and someone who has had to do things the hard way through much of his career. He gained a reputation as a road warrior, fighting in Nicaragua, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Panama, Thailand, China and the UK all in the space of 7 years. Not only was he on the road but he was also in with stiff competition, including Cesar Canchila, Moruti Mthalane, Luiz Alberto Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, Amnat Ruenroeng and Charlie Edwards. Not only he a road warrior, but he was a world class fighting, picking up several big wins on the road.
As a fighter Casimero is a clean hitting, sharp boxer-puncher. He's not the most destructive single puncher fighter out there, but he's got that razor sharp power, where he can bust people up with accurate clean shots. He has that solid power in both hands, and his power stays with him late into fights. He's skilled, has good ring IQ but is, as mentioned, lazy and somewhat under-sized for a Bantamweight, but at 30 is a fully grown man, unlike some of the youngsters breaking through the division.
Sadly it's less easy to say much about Ramirez, a man who has done nothing to be in a world title fight, even an interim one, and really will not be given much of a chance coming into this bout. The 31 year old Mexican challenger has been a professional since 2012 and has lacked a win of any real note. Despite that he has shared the ring with some pretty decent fighters, most notably Alejandro Gonzalez Jr and Ryan Burnett, who both clearly beat Ramirez, with Gonzalez stopping him in 6 and Burnett almost shutting him out over 10 rounds.
When looking through Ramirez's record for a win of some kind of note we really struggle, with the best being last year's 12th round TKO over Eliseo Velez. Sadly that sort of says it all, about Ramirez, who has not done anything at all to deserve a shot, with most of his wins so far coming against fighters with losing records.
Although not a total scrub it's still fair to say that Ramirez shouldn't be in a world title fight and will be little more than target practice for Casimero. The Filipino does deserve some easier bouts at home, given all of his big road bouts, but this is a rather pathetic first defense of the interim title. He will have things all his own way, chipping away at Ramirez until the time comes for the referee to save the challenger.
Prediction TKO7 - Casimero
Monaco may be well known for it's gambling, huge yachts, wonderful scenery and rich people however there is a slowly growing reputation for the countries boxing events, which have been promoted by South African promoter Rodney Berman. This Saturday sees Berman, and his “Golden Gloves Promotions” return to the European principality for a very cosmopolitan card featuring a variety of nationalities.
For us one of those bouts is of a particular interest as Kazakhstan's heavy handed Zhanat Zhakiyanov (25-1, 18) challenges WBA interim Bantamweight champion Yonfrez Parejo (17-1-1, 8), from Venezuela. On paper this is the most significant bout for either man so far and could well help set the stage for some big Bantamweight bouts in 2016.
The champion is a little known Venezuelan 29 year old who turned pro in 2009. His first bout of note saw him defeat the then unbeaten Jean Sampson in 2012 before being stopped, in 8 rounds, by the excellent Hugo Ruiz. Since then he has racked up 6 wins, including a decision win over Angky Angkotta in Indonesia and a win over Luis Hinojosa in 2014 to win his title.
From the footage of Parejo he looks to be a crafty fighter with an excellent and busy jab, intelligent movement and fast hands. Whilst his jab did catch out eye in terms of his punching we were actually more impressed by his calmness and confidence in the ring. He's certainly not the best Bantamweight out there, and he does make mistakes, but there is a lot of positives to take from his previous performances and he does look like the type of fighter who could frustrate fighters on the back foot.
Saying all that however Parejo has lost to the only world class fighter he's faced and hasn't really scored a win of world renown, hence why he's an unknown fighter.
Whilst Parejo is a known to only the hardcore and Latino fans Zhakiyanov is actually known in Europe, where he has spent some of his career under the guidance of the legendary Ricky Hatton. It's been under the watchful eye of Hatton that Zhakiyanov has claimed the European title and climbed the world rankings. Despite the link to Hatton however the Kazakh is a very well traveled fighter having already fought in Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Switzerland, the UK, Belarus, Hong Kong, Australia and Bulgaria.
In the ring Zhakiyanov looks like a very limited fighter. In fact to call him fundamentally flawed would be a compliment. What he does have in his favour however is power and physical strength. It's been his power which has resulted in his victories, some of which have been sensational like his win over Karim Guerfi who he iced in style. Watching him it seems clear he can be out boxed but going to war with him seems to be a stupid idea for anyone.
Whilst his flaws will hold him back from ever being a real star Zhakiyanov doesn't have time to waste any more as he turns 32 just days before the fight and it seems it's “now or never” for “ZZ”.
Watching the two men it seems clear that Parejo is the much better boxer, and in fact he clearly has the ability to box his way to a decision. Sadly for him we don't really know how tough he is and there is a good chance that he will be caught hard from a Zhakiyanov shot that ends the night early.
We're expecting Parejo's boxing to be the key early though as he slows down in the middle rounds there will be more opportunities for the Kazakh who will manage to tag the Venezuelan. When he does that, then things will be come interesting and we could see a new champion being crowned.
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.