IT WAS still about 7:30 in the morning here in the Philippines last Sunday when John Riel Casimero made his long-overdue primetime television debut in the United States.
And what a smashing debut it was as he bludgeoned challenger Duke Micah inside three rounds at the Mohegan Sun Casino to inflict the first defeat of the Ghanaian’s career and make it is 21st knockout in 30 fights and successfully defend his WBO bantamweight belt.
THE FIGHT. Coming into this fight, the challenger had built a reputation for being a strong puncher and in the first few minutes of the first round, he clearly wanted to make an impression on the champion by going toe to toe with him.
It was a very interesting round as I saw very few jabs thrown and both fighters unleased vicious, mean-intentioned body shots meant to take the other out.
Micah even got in a good overhand right just before the round ended that got the attention of “Quadro Alas.”
But alas (pun intended), class tells in boxing and in the second round, Casimero reminded the young upstart why he is a world champion in three weight classes and started taking command of the exchanges.
He dropped Micah with a left hook at the 1:44 mark of the second round and it all went downhill from there for the challenger.
Casimero tried his best to finish Micah but somehow the latter stumbled through to survive the round. The ring physician took a close look at Micah at the start of the third but allowed him to continue.
A few flurries from the supremely confident Casimero resulted in the denouement of the fight as the referee rescued Micah from further punishment at 2:03 of the third.
Casimero did some one-armed pushups in his post-fight victory celebration and promptly declared he is the real monster in his division, in obvious reference to Naoya Inoue whose ring epithet is “Monster” who still has to face Quadro Alas.
OMEGA BOXING IN THE BUBBLE. The Last Round lauds the endeavor of Omega Boxing Promotions to hold a boxing event on Oct. 7 at the IPI Compound in Mandaue City. Omega Boxers taking action are Mark Vicelles, Pete Apolinar, Christian Araneta and Carlo Bacaro against separate opponents.
Boxing fans out there know that Casimero himself boxed under Omega’s banner during his rise to stardom and with ALA Boxing Promotions folding up, the logical successor to holding the fort for Cebu boxing is Omega Boxing Promotions.
Truth be told, we have suffered a lot during this pandemic and unfortunately, sports events not being a necessity had to take a backseat. But now that things are opening up and the economy is being revived, this Last Rounder is glad that someone is taking the cudgels for the fighters under the new normal.
Of course there will be no fans in attendance, but we can still catch the action on their Facebook page which will be aired a few days later.
Definitely a good start and we hope for more events to come.
VERBATIM. “Inoue! You are a monster? You are no monster. You are a Chinese... Japanese Turtle... You scared me...”—Johnreil Casimero to Naoya Inoue (Social media video)
LAST ROUND. It’s on my kumpare Eddy Basa, master of Balintawak stick fighting, who celebrates his birthday this week. Cheers!