by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Former WBO interim junior flyweight champion Johnreil Casimero (14-1, 8 KO's) isn’t fazed by the reputation of IBF flyweight champion Moruti “Baby Face” Mthalane (26-2, 17 KO's) as he prepares for his title fight at the Nasrec Indoor Arena in Johannesburg on Saturday (Sunday, Manila Time.)
Casimero who arrived in South Africa a week before the title fight with promoter Sammy Gello-ani wasn’t worried about the statements of Mthalane’s trainer Nick Durandt who bragged that Casimero “doesn’t have what it takes to beat my little Zulu (Mthalane) over here.”
That statement may be interpreted as a hometown advantage which Filipino fighters have felt in the past but if it was any consolation to the Casimero camp two of the three judges are not South Africans . However, referee Wally Snowball and one judge Simon Jazi Xamlashe will be from South Africa. The two other judges named to work the fight are Valerie Dorsett of the United States and Alan Davis of Canada.
Gello-ani informed the Inquirer that although Casimero was almost five pounds over the flyweight limit after his first light workout in the hotel gym last Monday, he was confident it would pose no problems at the weigh-in on Friday (Saturday, Manila Time.)
Gello-ani expressed confidence that Casimero who started light training in January and “went into high gear last February until March with trainer Christopher Tepora supervising his training and sparring schedule” would be in good shape and ready on fight night.
He said Casimero “is in top shape and he is hoping he can handle Mthalane’s game plan. Casimero’s desire to become a world champion is still there.”
Mthalane won the title by beating Julio Cesar “Pingo” Miranda, the current WBO champion in a twelve round unanimous decision on November 20, 2009 and defended the title successfully with a 5th round TKO over countryman Zolani Tete on January 9, 2010.
Miranda won the WBO title with a 5th round TKO over Filipino Richie Mepranum in Mexico on June 12 last year and successfully defended the title against another Filipino, Arden Diale over whom he scored a 4th round TKO last February 26.
The little South African Mthalane is remembered for giving newly crowned WBC/WBO bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire some problems before the referee called a halt in the 6th round after Mthalane was badly cut and bleeding in their IBF/IBO title fight on November 1, 2008. Milenkovic claimed that Mthalane was “very unfortunate against Donaire to lose on cuts in round six after doing very well in rounds 4, 5 and 6.” The multi-titled promoter said “we all know how good Nonito is and this should give the boxing world an idea of how good Moruti is.”