Johnriel Casimero, great world title winner
IN THE photo gallery presented by Philboxing.com of the world flyweight boxing championship in Beijing on Wednesday, the loser was down clutching at his waistline. He was trying very hard to breathe through a killing stomach ache.
The winner, handsome and unmarked in dark tussled trunks, was waving his blue gloves all over. He was yelling in triumphant glee.
Johnriel Casimero of the Philippines stopped the undefeated Thai champion Amnat Ruenroeng in the fourth round of their rematch for the International Boxing Federation flyweight championship, top feature of the IBF annual convention in the Chinese capital.
Casimero’s championship victory counts as the worthiest feat by a Filipino boxer this year, so far.
The 26-year-old Leyte-born warrior joins Nonito Donaire Jr. and Donnie Nietes among reigning Filipino world boxing champions.
The championship in Beijing drew scant attention hereabouts, its result drowned out by the Manny Pacquiao refusal of the invitation to box for the Philippines in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
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Another thing: The Casimero victory happened middle of the week, while there was busy preparation for the Nietes defense of his WBO light flyweight title scheduled in Bacolod last night.
Casimero’s great victory was however noticed all over the world.
In fact, there were instant suggestions to pit Casimero against the undefeated Nicaraguan pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzales.
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Casimero cannot be brushed off as a mere overnight sensation. He had been through some big international tests.
He was declared loser on points to Ruenroeng in a controversial foul-ridden title confrontation in Bangkok last year, wherein the referee drew international censure for blindly allowing the repeated dirty tactics of the Thai champion.
The title clash in Beijing on Wednesday was ordered by the IBF, which bowed to worldwide pressure.
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There was also that earlier knockout victory over hometown favorite Luis Alberto Zarate in Buenos Aires, after which Casimero and his team was threatened by mobbing fans.
In Beijing on Wednesday, Casimero, after feeling out his foe in the earlier rounds, dug in hard and downed Ruenroeng with a hook to the head in the fourth round. He then went for the kill, stabbing his wobbly foe with killer combinations to the body that sent the flamboyant red-headed Thai sensation crumbling, his head next slumped against the ropes.
The defeat of Ruenroeng, a national idol who had beaten two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming for the IBF flyweight crown, caused a national heartache in the Kingdom of Thailand.
It was the first pro defeat for Ruenroeng (17-1, 5 KOs). Casimero is now 22-3, with 14 KOs.
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