John Riel Casimero will finally make his way back to the ring.
Barring any literal last-minute drama, everything is set for the former three-division titlist to end a near 16-month ring hiatus. The last hurdle was cleared on Friday, when Casimero made weight for his scheduled ten-round junior flyweight clash with former two-time title challenger Ryo Akaho.
Casimero was 121.3 pounds, while Akaho was slightly heavier but still under the divisional limit at 121.7 pounds for their headliner on Saturday (local time) at Paradise City Plaza in Incheon, South Korea.
The event is also available to US viewers via Fite TV PPV ($19.99 SRP) beginning at 11:30 p.m. ET.
Casimero fights for the first time since a split decision win over Guillermo Rigondeaux last August 14 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The win turned out to be the final defense of his WBO bantamweight title, as he was stripped for failure to defend versus mandatory challenger Paul Butler.
The two were scheduled to fight last December 11 in Dubai, but Casimero fell ill during the morning of the weigh-in and withdrew from the event in Dubai. Efforts to reschedule this past April in Butler’s hometown of Liverpool, England ended with Casimero violating a UK fight week rule of improper sauna use, leaving him unable to fight and with the WBO declaring his title vacant which Butler has since claimed.
Casimero also faced visa issues and legal troubles, though the latter is apparently no longer an issue. The 33-year-old from Ormoc City, Philippines was able to obtain proof from the Republic of the Philippines Judiciary confirming that he is no longer the subject of a previously reported criminal case alleging acts of lasciviousness.
Akaho has won thirteen straight fights since suffering a second-round knockout to Pungluang Sor Singyu in their August 2015 vacant WBO bantamweight title fight. The 36-year-old from Yokohama most recently scored a first-round knockout of The Philippines’ Edring Dapudong on September 3 at the famed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. His other defeat came in a New Year’s Eve 2012 points loss to then-WBC junior bantamweight champ Yota Sato at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Also on the show, former two-division titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (69-11-1, 56KOs) faces Tokyo’s Takuya Watanabe (38-11-1, 22KOs) in a scheduled ten-round junior lightweight contest. Mexico City’s Gonzalez, 41, weighed 130 pounds while Watanabe was just under the limit at 129.9 pounds.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox