by Ronnie Nathanielsz
IBF light flyweight champion Johnriel Casimero and his well-known promoter Sammy Gello-ani said they are tired of having to keep defending his world title abroad after winning the crown by a 10th round TKO in Argentina which was marred by a post-fight riot.
The soft-spoken Casimero who carries remarkable power for a 108 pound champion returned home on Thursday morning from Panama where he successfully defended his title against mandatory challenger Luis Alberto Rios of Panama said that while he “seems comfortable fighting abroad and winning” he would like to be “given a chance to defend his title before his hometown fans.”
Casimero said that after he caught Rios who had a record of 18-1-1 with 13 knockouts with a strong left in the opening round the challenger backed off and allowed him to dictate the tempo of the fight believing he did that “because I was a strong puncher.”
Casimero who is basically a fighter who likes to engage looked fresh and unmarked and was disappointed that the No.1 ranked Rios was merely content to throw just one or two punches and back off, refusing to fight fire with fire even when Casimero charged forward in an effort to entice the Panamanian to slug it out.
Gello-ani conceded that “there were dull moments during the fight since Rios refused to mix it up or fight toe-to-toe.”
The result was that Casimero who successfully defended his title for a second time was content to “throw effective jabs” and control the tempo of the fight to score a lopsided unanimous points decision on the scorecards of judges Levi Martinez of New Mexico, Nelson Vazquez of Puerto Rico and Joe Garcia of Arizona.
Two of the judges had Casimero winning almost by a shutout, 119-109 while the third judge had the Filipino well ahead 118-110.
Gello-ani said that after a well-deserved rest he hopes to stage a title defense “possibly by June or July and it would be great if we get the support of Philippine television.”
Gello-ani said it was “difficult at times to make a decision to fight abroad but we couldn’t avoid the Rios fight which was a mandatory and if there is no support here at home I am forced to take the fight to other countries to make it happen.”
He noted that the No.1 sponsor in Panama was the government “that’s why we didn’t have a hard time there.”
Gello-ani is hoping that he could stage a blockbuster card featuring Casimero, John Mark Apolinario who once again was held to a draw in a rematch for the WBA bantamweight interim title against Roberto “The Spider” Vasquez also a hometown boy and world rated flyweight Froilan “The Sniper” Saludar.
He said he is “very hopeful” that with former PBA chairman and president of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines Ricky Vargas taking over as head of ABC 5 with Smart Gilas national coach Chot Reyes assuming the leadership of AKTV Sports, Casimero’s next title defense could be staged before his hometown fans recalling that Casimero's title winning effort against Lazarte and his first defense against Guevara and Saludar and Apolinario’s fights were telecast by AKTV IBC 13.