John Riel Casimero and Nonito Donaire will be subject to the sport’s highest standard of random drug testing—assuming both sides still proceed with their fight.
Drama surrounding the WBC/WBO bantamweight title fight proved for naught, as both boxers have officially enrolled in Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) testing. The two are currently slated to meet August 14 in a bantamweight title unification clash to air live on Showtime from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, as first reported by BoxingScene.com.
“Nonito Donaire (and) John Riel Casimero have enrolled in VADA testing for their August 2021 bout,” confirmed a tweet from the official VADA account, tagging TGB Promotions as well as the World Boxing Council (WBC) and its long-reigning president Mauricio Sulaiman.
The subject managed to steal headlines for all of the wrong reasons. on an otherwise active Saturday of boxing.
Rachel Donaire, Nonito’s manager/trainer/wife was adamant through social media in calling for Casimero (30-4, 21KOs) and his team to get paperwork submitted in time to begin testing for the fight due to take place in just seven weeks. The imposed deadline came and went without Casimero and MP Promotions providing an answer to the liking of Team Donaire, who—as reported by other outlets and media members—that their side was prepared to walk away from the fight to which they agreed just one week prior.
Donaire (41-6, 27KOs) caused shockwaves through the industry after coming out of nowhere to agree to face Casimero, who was previously due to defend versus Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux on the date. Rigondeaux owns a win over Donaire in April 2013, ending the Fil-Am’s lineal junior featherweight title reign though never gaining much momentum in his own career.
Instead, it was Donaire who continued to secure big opportunities, becoming a four-division titlist after capturing a featherweight belt one year after losing to Rigondeaux. Donaire has since claimed a second title reign at junior featherweight and two more tours at bantamweight, including his latest run courtesy of a fourth-round knockout of previously unbeaten Nordine Oubaali to win the WBC bantamweight title May 29 in Carson, California.
Just three weeks later, Donaire made good on a promise to pursue unification bouts in the bantamweight division. However, his ambitious pursuit of Casimero has come with its share of conflict. Donaire is a longtime advocate for stringent drug-testing, the first U.S.-based boxer to submit to year-round random testing. His team pushed the issue for VADA testing in their unification bout, with Rachel Donaire revealing via social media of her intention to pick up the tab for the supplemental testing while also publicly questioning why Casimero’s team was slow to finalize the process.
“Blocking the noise… I (am) just waiting for VADA and WBC to confirm [the] whereabouts form has been submitted so there is not incomplete paperwork or not updated paperwork as to where to find John Riel Casimero,” Rachel Donare tweeted on Friday.
All boxers enrolled in VADA as well as the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program are required to alert program officials and testers of their location both in writing and as prompted prior to actual testing. Gibbons took care of that for Casimero, with the WBC publicly confirming Casimero’s whereabouts form had been submitted as to the satisfaction of the Clean Boxing Program,
The matter of supplemental drug testing for the fight itself, however, still remained unresolved by night’s end.
“Soooo… VADA 24/7/365 [form] has still NOT been turned in,” she tweeted. “Celebrate [your] fake victory but Casimero [you] are still NOT [in] VADA.”
The threat drew the ire of Casimero’s handlers, who dismissed the claims as an attempted smear tactic.
“John Riel Casimero [has been] in the WBC Clean Program since 2017,” Sean Gibbons, president of MP Promotions told BoxingScene.com in a statement. “John Riel Casimero was enrolled and tested for the Inoue fight before it was canceled and John Riel Casimero is enrolled in VADA for the Nonito Donaire fight!”
Very public claims by Rachel Donaire tried to suggest otherwise, insisting that the three-division and reigning WBO bantamweight titlist from Ormoc City, Philippines was trying to avoid such testing. Rumors swirled of the matter serving as a dealbreaker, with Donaire reportedly informing all key parties involved that he was prepared to walk away from the fight.
There is no indication of the fight being canceled as this goes to publish. Casimero certainly plans to continue training as if the third defense of his WBO bantamweight title—which he won in a third-round knockout of Zolani Tete in November 2019—will come in the form of a summertime unification clash.
“If Nonito is getting cold feet for reasons I am not aware of then that is on them! John Riel Casimero believes in clean boxing and has always played [by] the rules.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox