It's fair to say that 2020 has been a frustrating year for WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21), who had been hoping to face Naoya Inoue in April, before that bout was cancelled. That frustration seemed to give him some real hunger to shine when he stepped into the ring earlier today and took on the previously unbeaten Duke Micah (24-1, 19).
From the opening round we saw Casimero set off to make a statement. There was no feeling out round, instead it was bombs away, and the aggression of Casimero forced Micah to respond, giving us an incredible opening round. Both men were throwing bombs, and both were landing bombs in what was a shoot out.
Straight from the bell we saw both landing bit shots to the body, as they both tried to snap the other in half. In regards to head shots Casimero wasn't throwing too many in the opening round, and was actually caught by the best head shot of the round, but it seemed to bounce off him.
The bombs continued to fly in round 2. Quite early in the round however the power of Casimero turned the fight, with a short, compact left hook wobbling Micah, who stumbled and dropped to the canvas. The knockdown wasn't fight ending by it's self, but did seem like the start of the end, with Casimero all over Micah for the rest of the round. Some how Micah survived the onslaught, and fought back valiantly with some solid shots of his own. Although Micah was showing his toughness he was taking a lot of punishment, as Casimero began to have fun, taunting and loading up on uppercuts.
To his credit Micah survived the round though was given a look over by the doctor just seconds into round 3. It was clear the doctor and the referee was aware he had taken a lot of punishment, and the referee made it clear he had to show something.
Sadly for Micah he was in with someone who wasn't wanting to mess around and Casimero continued to press for a stoppage. Micah continued to show his bravery, landing a big body shot himself, but couldn't stop himself being overwhelmed by Casimero. This forced the referee, Steve Willis, to step in and call a halt to the contest.
The win was real a statement from Casimero, who seemed to realise this was his chance to make a name for himself in front of a US TV audience. He realised he had a chance to become a star, and he took that chance with both hands. This was explosive, exciting, and the type of bout that leaves an impression on fans who, perhaps, weren't too aware of Casimero.
As for Micah he was game, he tried to compete with Casimero, but he was very much out of his depth, and that was clear pretty early on. Despite his loss we suspect he will come again and even in defeat he would have made fans for his heart, toughness, and desire.
The amazing road journey of Johnriel Casimero (23-3, 15) continued earlier today as he made his European debut and stopped the gutsy but inexperienced Charlie Edwards (8-1, 3) in the 10th round to retain the IBF Flyweight title.
Early on Casimero took advantage of Edwards' inexperience and landed body shots whilst making Edwards' look impotent in reply. Despite being the taller man Edwards was unable to land a meaningful jab, control the range, tempo or pretty much anything. To Edwards' credit he refused to be over-whelmed but it was clear the two men were in totally different classes with Edwards looking like a British level guy facing a world class fighter.
In rounds 5 and 6 Casimero slowed down notably, it seemed like he was looking to detonate a bomb for an eye catching KO rather than really set up his shots. With the Filipino looking for a big shot he let Edwards into the fight slightly and their would be a case for Edwards to have deserved either of the rounds, but it seemed more like a case of Casimero being overly relaxed rather than Edwards coming on.
Knowing that he shouldn't look for a big shot to finish it there and then Casimero got back to what he had been doing, out landing Edwards ans showing the gulf in ability and experience. By the end of round 8 it was beginning to look like a beating for Edwards, who gritted his teeth through some heavy leather but did little to get the champion's respect and it began to look like a case of when, and not if, Casimero was going to stop the Englishman.
The stoppage finally came in round 10 after Casimero landed a monstrous left hand that dropped Edwards and a follow up forced the referee to save Edwards.
For the Englishman the beating became painful, and actually saw his promoter try and get him saved from punishment late in the fight. He may bounce back but he may also never become the fighter that some had hopes. For Casimero it's a well paid first defense and we suspect he'll be in the mix come the end of the year for a big fight in Japan, possibly against OPBF champion Daigo Higa, or possibly in Mexico against Juan Francisco Rodriguez. Although the best payday would likely be a bout with Zou Shiming it's fair to say that Bob Arum won't be in a rush to put the Chinese star in with Casimero.
For much of the last decade the “lower weights” have been the most exciting, most interesting and more varied divisions in the sport. That was again seen when we had a talented, but frustrating, spoiler up against a flawed but exciting puncher.
The bout in question was the second meeting between Amnat Ruenroeng (17-1, 5) [อำนาจ รื่นเริง] and Filipino Johnriel Casimero (22-3, 14), a rematch that came after last year's farcical and foul filled bout in Amnat's native Thailand.
The bout started much like their first. From the opening bell it seemed like Amnat was sharper, stronger, faster and and physically the better fighter. He seemed able to box when he wanted and wrestle when he wanted, almost trying to bully the Filipino mentally, and in fact seemed to stiffen the Filipino part way through the round. The second followed a similar pattern with the Filipino being made to look second best to the defending the champion.
In round 3 Amnat sent Casimero to the canvas, though rightfully it was ruled a push with Amnat scarcely hiding his dirty tactics and dark arts.
Surprisingly the bout flipped on it's head in round 4 when Casimero landed a sweet counter up top that sent Amnat down. The shot would have dropped anyone in the division and Amnart unsurprisingly dropped hard, though amazingly got back to his feet. Although he got up he never seemed to recover and Casimero went on the hunt, smelling blood. Several waves of the Casimero storm were thwarted, with Amnat blocking, holding and spoiling his way through some of the round but a left hand to the body put the Thai down for the count.
With the win Casimero becomes a 2-weight world champion, having previously been the IBF Light Flyweight champion, and leaves the Flyweight picture looking extremely exciting, with him, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Kazuto Ioka all holding titles. As for Amnat this could be the end, unless he fancies a trilogy with Casimero, he's getting on in terms of age and after a stoppage loss like this he may find it very hard to get notable opponents to face him and his dark arts style.
Our great sport may be the “Fight Game” but there are rules to it, it's not a street fight, and it's not a barbaric event with a “free-for-all” mentality. Sadly for those who tuned into to Mono 29 on Saturday to watch the IBF Flyweight title bout between unbeaten Thai Amnat Ruenroeng and Filipino slugger Johnriel Casimero, the rules were essentially bent, broken, buckled, destroyed and ignored in a bout that may go down as the worst officiated bout of the decade. So poorly enforced were the rules that referee, Larry Doggett, mat as well have been on another continent. Instead Mr Doggett was in the ring and was part of the farce, possibly even exacerbating the problems.
From the opening this was a wild one, with in seconds the fighters had come together with Amnat wrestling, using his physical strength to bully Casimero who was thrown to the canvas within 30 seconds. It should have been an indication to the referee that he would need to get a grip on the fight quickly, and that if he didn't things were going to become downright appalling. Unfortunately the referee let it slide.
Despite the early “physical activity” there was some good boxing by Amnat in the opening stanza with the Thai landing some beautiful counters as Casimero charged in looking to land a solid shot. Ruenroeng often saw the Filipino's lunges coming, stepped back and countered. There was some real sweet science when Amnat decided to box. Sadly though the round ended in slightly sour fashion with Amnat swinging for Casimero well after the bell, the shot missed but the intention seemed to be there, and it was clear the referee was willing to turn a blind eye.
The second round again saw some classy work from the Thai who scored a knockdown with a solid counter and appeared to have Casimero under his control with both the counter-punching and the wrestling. Unfortunately though the wrestling was just starting to get worse and the referee's ineptitude was only just starting to show.
The third round was where things really began to fall apart. Casimero appeared to land a solid counter of his own that dropped Amnat, that however was, very questionably, ruled a slip. From the on Amnat began to flaunt the rules, throwing Casimero down, hitting on the break and, twice, holding Casimero against the ropes. Notably there was also a very long break for Amnat to have his shoe laces tied. There was little in terms of notable boxing, other than knockdown that wasn't.
The fouls that were evident in round 3 became worse in every progressive round from then on with Amnat showing off a bigger variety of illegal tactics than legal ones. They included a number of headlocks in round 4, judo throws in round 5, Amnat trying to shovel Casimero out of the ring in round 6, a choke hold in 7 and a full on mount in round 8. Not only was Amnat breaking the rules regularly but he was also being rewarded for them with a terribly called knockdown in round 7 coming following several illegal moves from the Thai.
By the start of round 9 it was looking like there was only 2 possible results. Either Amnat was going to win by decision, or Casimero was going to lose by DQ, losing his temper and hitting the referee, who really did deserve to be “take one” in the name of justice. What made everything worse however was the fact Amnat was more than capable of out boxing the Filipino, in fact he did so every time the fight actually resembled “boxing”. The Thai was able to avoid shots, counter with ease, land the telling blows, but unfortunately he couldn't help himself to break the rules at every opportunity.
The referee, finally, did something in round 11 when he deducted a point from Amnat. It was, however, little more than a token gesture by a referee who had no intention of disqualifying Amnat for what had been a disgraceful performance.
The 12th saw a desperate, frustrated and clearly annoyed Casimero swinging for the fences. For the most part he was again wrestled away, pushed down and generally neutralised as Amnat showed off his physical strength. There was however little landed cleanly by either man.
Come the final bell there was no doubting the winner with Amnat clearly taking the decision. Whilst he had fouled continually through the course of the bout he had also landed almost every telling blow, with his counters being eye catching when he let them go. With the win he managed to notch his 4th defense whilst extending his unbeaten record to 16-0 (5). For Casimero the loss drops him to 21-3 (13), and is his first set back since 2011, though we'd not be shocked to see a petition from his team to the IBF for an immediate rematch.
Sadly whilst Amnat's record now looks really good, especially with wins over Kazuto Ioka, McWilliams Arroyo, Zou Shiming and Casimero, he didn't manage to do himself any favours here. A potential unification bout with Roman Gonzalez or Juan Francisco Estrada simply won't interest anyone who saw today's bouts and it's also unlikely he'll lure any big names over to Thailand to fight him. As for Casimero, he must have felt like he did when he was in Argentina having chairs hurled at him following his win over Luis Alberto Lazarte. The Filipino has now faced two of the dirtiest fighters of the last decade, both on the road, and will have every right to be aggrieved about the officiating here.
As for the referee himself, he needs to be kept away from a boxing ring, in future. Maybe MMA is more his scene.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.