John Riel Casimero wins homecoming bout, continues Naoya Inoue chase
MANILA, Philippines—Aiming for a spectacular finish, John Riel Casimero tried but found Fillipus Nghitumbwa a tough customer on Saturday.
Nonetheless, Casimero picked up a unanimous decision win in their 12-round super bantamweight bout at Okada Manila Hotel and Casino in Parañaque City.
“He took all my body shots and shook it off. As early as the first round I thought to myself, he is a durable guy. I tried to finish him early but did not want to be overconfident because he was prepared for the fight,” Casimero said.
Casimero (33-4, 22KOs) did send Naghitumbwa (12-2, 11KOs) to the canvas with a left hook in the sixth round but Nghitumbwa showed great resolve and was able to survive and eventually go the distance.
Two judges had it 116-110 while the other scored it 114-112.
“I was surprised. I was getting hit with a jab because of his reach though he did not land easily because I see his punches. I worked on my timing because I felt that I cannot take him out right away so I needed to use angles to land my punches,” Casimero said.
“He was waiting for my power punch so I had to play around before coming in. I stayed in front of him and did not allow him to distance himself because he also has power. A lot of people said that my opponent was going to be an easy fight, but we all saw how good he is and he was really prepared. I did my best and showcased that I can win the fight.”
The 34-year-old Casimero claimed the WBO Global title—a measly distinction—with his main focus dead set on regaining his world champion status.
“I will let my manager and promoter arrange my next fight, I will let them decide if it is going to be Naoya Inoue or Ra’eese Aleem. I hope to become a world champion again,” said the three-division champion.
Calling out Naoya Inoue, one of the top pound-for-pound fighters today, is nothing new for Casimero.
It’s been three years since the showdown between Casimero and Inoue was scuppered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Casimero has remained very vocal about wanting a shot at Inoue, who recenlty moved up to super bantamweight after becoming undisputed at 118 pounds.
Casimero’s camp is also not discounting the possibility of a fight against Inoue finally taking place down the road.
“I guess it is good that we finished the whole twelve rounds because it might make Naoya Inoue finally fight us,” Jayson Casimero, John Riel’s brother and trainer, said.