Boxing’s 118-pound weight class is easily one of the most loaded in boxing, and in a few days, another world title marquee matchup will take place.
WBO bantamweight titleholder John Riel Casimero will defend his strap against former unified super bantamweight champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux on Aug. 14 at the Dignity Health Sports Park (many hardcore boxing fans may remember it as The Home Depot Center) in Carson, California. The title bout will headline a bantamweight tripleheader Premier Boxing Champions card on Showtime.
The two fighters agreed to the August date months ago, but Casimero and his team decided to unify with WBC titleholder Nonito Donaire instead. However, that matchup fell apart after a dispute over drug testing, which prompted Casimero to shift his focus back to Rigondeaux.
After championship reigns at 108 and 112 pounds, Casimero (30-4, 21 KO) captured a WBO title belt at bantamweight, when he stopped Zolani Tete in 2019. He was then scheduled to unify against WBA/IBF/Ring Magazine champion Naoya Inoue, who’s considered by most of the boxing public as the premier champion of the weight class. The fight was set for April 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic completely scrapped those plans. However, Casimero was able to get a fight in that year, when he defended his title against Duke Micah that September on the Jermall Charlo-Sergiy Derevyanchenko pay-per-view undercard.
Aug. 14 will be Casimero’s first outing since his title defense against Micah last year, and the Filipino will be looking to earn his seventh consecutive stoppage win on the night.
Rigondeaux (20-1, 13 KO) has had a much more storied career than Casimero thus far, despite having less fights. The Cuban completed a 10-fight title reign at 122 pounds before moving up two weight classes in late 2017 to challenge Vasiliy Lomachenko for a super featherweight belt at 130 pounds. But after getting outclassed by Lomacheko, Rigondeaux’s stock dropped tremendously. Rigondeaux’s cautiously defensive style, coupled with his quitting on the stool after six rounds with Lomachenko, made fans not overly anxious to see him again.
After spending all of 2018 outside the ring, Rigondeaux came back and picked up two stoppage wins the following year. Then, he moved down to bantamweight in Feb. 2020 and outpointed Liborio Solis to win a WBA (regular) title in a new weight class. Rigondeaux’s upcoming fight against Casimero will be his first bout since then.
Both Casimero and Rigondeaux have a lot to prove here. Casimero will be looking to take the next step in the journey of becoming the next Filipino boxing great, alongside Flash Elorde, Manny Pacquiao, and Nonito Donaire. Meanwhile, Rigondeaux will have the opportunity to reach the heights he had eight years ago, when he thoroughly outboxed a prime Donaire and became a top ten pound-for-pound talent.
Fighter’s Form (last 5 fights):
John Riel Casimero
Duke Micah - WIN by TKO 3 - 26/019/2020
Zolani Tete - WIN by TKO 3 - 30/11/2019
Cesar Ramirez- WIN by KO 10 - 24/08/2019
Ricardo Espinoza Franco - WIN by KO 12 - 20/04/2019
Kenya Yamashita - WIN by TKO 6 - 16/02/2019
Liborio Solis - WIN by SD (114-113 2X for Rigondeaux, 115-112 for Solis) - 08/02/2020
Julio Ceja - WIN by TKO 8 - 23/06/2019
Giovanni Delgado - WIN by KO 1 - 13/01/2019
Vasiliy Lomachenko - LOSS by RTD 6 - 09/12/2017