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Lazarte banned for life, Casimero says he was tempted to hit back

/ 09:10 PM February 17, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Argentine boxer Luis Lazarte was banned for life for threatening the referee and sparking an ugly riot right after losing to Filipino fighter Johnriel Casimero in their IBF interim flyweight title fight in Buenos Aires, last week.

Internet reports said the boxing body imposed the penalty against the 40-year-old Lazarte, whose reputation for being a dirty fighter took a new dimension when he was quoted as telling referee Eddie Claudio “do you want to get out of here alive?” after he docked a point for repeated punches to Casimero’s head.

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Claudio stopped the fight in the 10th following Lazarte’s third knockdown and bedlam ensued as Lazarte and his fans ganged up on Casimero and his corner in a shocking scene that has been replayed by TV stations and gone viral in the Internet.

IBF president Daryl Peoples sent a letter to the Argentine Boxing Federation Osvaldo Bisbal informing him of the decision.

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Peoples was reported to have said in the letter: “I believe that I do not have to express to you that Lazarte’s threat to Claudio, which [is clear] in the telecast, is completely unacceptable, should not be taken lightly and merits punishment. Behavior of this nature by a fighter is not and will not be tolerated.”

Meanwhile, Casimero Friday admitted he was tempted to throw punches against the unruly mob in the din of chaos and mayhem.

The 22-year-old Casimero, who was born in Ormoc, Leyte, but is now a resident of Mandaue City, said he was worried he would pass out due to lack of oxygen while hiding in the cramped space under the ring at the Club Once Unidos in Mar del Plata last Feb. 11.

“I was very afraid especially when the police took a peek under the ring,” said Casimero in Filipino as he made the rounds in TV and radio shows Friday. “But the police said ‘Casimero you are safe now?’ Some of the police were also hurt.”

He said he wanted to fight back but realized that things would get worse if he did. He endured rabbit punches and head butts from Lazarte who, in the eighth round, even bit his shoulder.

“He (Lazarte) is a good fighter but he plays dirty,” added Casimero, who dropped the Argentine twice in the ninth. He improved to 16-2-0 with 10 stoppages.

Lazarte’s fans started hurling chairs and climbing the ring after Claudio stopped the fight, triggering a the riot that left Casimero’s cornerman Sean Gibbons with broken ribs. The referee also got stitches for busted lips.

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Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile has ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs to recall the ambassador to the Argentina to explain what happened. Argentina’s ambassador has since apologized for the incident.

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TAGS: Buenos Aires, IBF, Johnriel Casimero, police
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