The UK might be one of the hotbeds for boxing right now but it's not often we'll see a Filipino take on a South African in the country. Today however we saw one such bout, as the WBO Bantamweight got a new champion!
The match up in question saw South African fighter Zolani Tete (28-4, 21) return to the ring after more than a year our to take on "interim" champion John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20) from the Philippines.
On paper this looked like a fantastic match up between two world class fighters. Two multi-weight world champions, in fact. It looked not only like it was going to be competitive, but also a very interesting clash of styles with Tete being a freakish physical specimen and Casimero being a wild, but heavy handed slugger.
Sadly the interest in the bout going in didn't deliver. The first 2 rounds saw almost nothing happen. The size difference and skills of both men saw almost nothing land, as both men showed a lot of respect to the other. The only meaningful thing that happened was a clash of heads in round 2. That was essentially the only meaningful connect either man made with the other in the first 6 minutes.
In round 3 things changed as Casimero seemingly grew in confidence and landed a brutal right hand up top on Tete. The shot was something else and not only did it drop Tete, but it left him scrambled. Tete beat the count but didn't look like he knew where he was. He looked like his legs were gone and his head was gone. Knowing it was his chance to strike Casimero kept up the intensity and essentially bundled the wobbly Tete down again. The South African's heart got him to his feet again, but a follow left the referee with no decision other than to stop the bout.
With Casimero celebrating another huge win on the road to become a 3 weight world champion attention turned to Tete who took quite a few minutes to recover, though thankfully did look fine in the end.
Following the win Casimero called for a fight with Naoya Inoue, in a bout that would unify the WBA, IBF and WBO titles, and it's clear that that is a bout that makes a lot of sense to see getting made in 2020.
On Saturday morning we saw the WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12) being stripped of his title due to a failure to make weight ahead of his first defense, a bout against Shohei Omori (18-1, 13) [大森 将平] on Sunday.
Due to the stripping of Tapales, and the potential long term vacancy, the WBO seemingly upgraded the status of the bout between Zolani Tete (25-3, 20) and Arthur Villanueva (30-2, 16), which was originally a world title eliminator but later became an interim title fight.
Sadly for Filipino fighter Villanueva the change in status of the bout didn't do him any favours, in fact if anything it may have inspired an even better performance from the South African, with Tete putting on a dominant and one-sided performance.
Villanueva came to win, don't get us wrong, but from the opening seconds it was clear he was out matched with the Filipino being shut down offensively from very early on.
The slippery Tete managed to find a home for his jab early on and chose when to come forward and press the action, with the Filipino only have very rare moments of success, which were almost instwntly forgotten as Tete tagged him soon afterwards.
Villanueva's toughness served him well, but he was dropped in round 11, a flash knockdown, and never really looked capable of having a big final round to turn things around. Instead he seemed to settle for a 12 round decision loss, with cards of 119-108, twice, and 120-107.
If Omori wins tomorrow the signs are that his first defense will have to be against Tete whilst a loss for the Japanese fighter would see Tete being promoted to the status of full champion.
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.