A fight that looked interesting on paper before it was replaced remains interesting now that things have circled back to where they started.
Saturday night (Showtime, 10 PM EST), we almost had a Nonito Donaire-John Riel Casimero unification match at bantamweight. It was a surprising move with Casimero already slated to defend against Guillermo Rigondeaux. Ultimately, it was a surprise too good to be true.
This fight was always good enough.
Making his second straight start at 118 lbs., Rigondeaux will seek to win a sanctioning body title in his second division. Casimero will seek to hold on to what is his third in as many weight classes.
Both men can punch. Both men have shown vulnerability.
Fans could have a fascinating chess match here.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
John Riel Casimero
Title: WBO Bantamweight (2019-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: IBF Jr. Flyweight (2012-14, 3 Defenses); IBF Flyweight (2016, 1 Defense)
Weight: 118 lbs.
Hails from: Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines
Record: 30-4, 21 KO, 1 KOBY
Press Rankings: #2 (Ring), #3 (TBRB, BoxRec), #4 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 8-2, 6 KO, 1 KOBY; (11-3, 7 KO, 1 KOBY including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 106-12 (.898)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Cesar Canchila TKO11; Ramon Garcia L12; Moruti Mthalane TKO by 5; Luis Lazarte TKO10; Amnat Ruenroeng L12, KO4; Zolani Tete TKO3
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Pedro Guevara SD12; Charlie Edwards TKO10
Title: Lineal World Jr. Featherweight (2013-Present, 7 Defenses)
Previous Titles: WBA Super Bantamweight (2012-15, 6 Defenses; 16-17, 2 Defenses); WBO Jr. Featherweight (2013-15, 3 Defenses)
Weight: 117 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Miami, Florida (Originally from Cuba)
Record: 20-1, 13 KO, 1 KOBY
Press Rankings: #2 (ESPN), #5 (TBRB), #7 (Ring)
Record in Major Title Fights: 10-1, 6 KO, 1 KOBY, 1 NC including lineal title fights; (13-1, 7 KO, 1 KOBY, 1 NC including interim and sub-title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 112-17-1 (.865)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Ricardo Cordoba SD12; Rico Ramos KO6; Nonito Donaire UD12; Joseph Agbeko UD12; Moises Flores NC1; Vasyl Lomachenko RTD by 6
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Julio Ceja TKO8; Liborio Solis SD12
The Pick: Rigondeaux’s age looms large here. Does he have the legs to weather a serious storm? If he does, the old man has a real chance. Casimero isn’t a high output fighter normally but he’s physically strong and explosive. Casimero has the power to hurt Rigondeaux and knows how to finish. This isn’t the first crafty fighter Casimero has had to solve. Rigondeaux showed vulnerability against Ceja and in spots against Solis but has physical advantages to draw on here. Rigondeaux is longer, he’s taller, and he can still punch. He also appears on last sighting to retain his sense of distance. If Casimero is lulled into a deliberate pace, he plays into the Cuban’s hands. The thinking here is that Rigondeaux may go down early but he’s still too cagey. Eventually, he lines Casimero up and either hurts him for a finish or contains him for the rest of the fight from there. Either way, Rigondeaux is the pick.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com