By Carlos Costa
PANAMA CITY, Panama - Happy Birthday Casimero. World title mandatory challenger Luis Alberto "Pan Blanco" Ríos of Panama, the hard-hitting 23-year-old fighter due to battle IBF Jr. Flyweight World Champion Johnriel Casimero on March 16 at the Megápolis Convention Center of the Hard Rock Hotel in Panama City, continues his rigorous training for his world title fight, but the friendly Panamanian makes a little pause in his preparation to wish his opponent, Casimero, a happy birthday.
The Filipino world champion Casimero (17-2, 10KO's), born in the picturesque seaside city of Ormoc in Leyte, central Philippines, celebrated his birthday on February 13, one day ahead of the Valentine's Day celebrations.
The quiet and soft-spoken Luis Alberto Rios, who had his own 23rd birthday celebration last week, will receive the "Panama National Fighter of the Year Award," from the Panama Boxing Comission (COMIBOX) on February 18.
Rios won the award as he was consistent and successful during 2012, scoring meaningful wins as well as the right of fighting for the Jr. Flyweight (108 lbs) world title.
These weeks, Rios proceeds with the preparations for his clash with Casimero at the hacienda of his manager, the financially well-off businessman Melchor Herrera, a paradisaical resort-like property located in the Río Hato, a calmed green and blue fishing town on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, about 100Km southwest of the capital Panama City.
"Preparations proceed fantastically well. Luis "Pan Blanco" (18-1-1, 13KO's), is motivated, relaxed and focused on winning March 16 to give our country Panama another world title in boxing," said Rios' promoter Rogelio Espiño today.
"Luis Rios goal is achieving his dream of becoming Panama’s world boxing champion #30," added Espiño,the boxing promoter who on February 18th will be receiving the award as the "Best Promoter of the Year in Panama."
RIOS' TRAINER ORLANDO SOTO THINKS IT WILL BE A GREAT FIGHT
In addition, Rios' trainer, 44-year-old Orlando Soto, figures that it will be an exciting great fight, but thinks his kid should win. Indeed, the experienced Soto has full confidence in his pupil's chances.
A former fighter, Soto recognized the discipline and seriousness of "Pan Blanco," as well as his desire of becoming Panama's world champion #30.
"Luis is a kid easy to get along with. Serious, respectful, friendly. But as fighter is his tough. He can hit hard in any round, even in round 11. Do you remember Mexican Felipe Salguero (17-4-1, 12KO's)? A crafty veteran master boxer like Donnie Nietes wanted to score a big knock out win against Felipe Salguero... but could not move Salguero, could not rock the tough Mexican kid... In contrast, Rios attacked Salguero and knocked him out cold in round 11 with one punch. What do you think about that?" commented Soto.
"I have been training "Pan Blanco" long enough to know of his capabilities and the power of his tenacity. When he tells me that he will to be a champion for Panama I believe him," concluded Orlando Soto, a veteran trainer with experience in world title fights.
RIOS' POSITIVE STATE OF MIND
A reason for Rios's positive boxing state of mind could be because his home country of Panama has been for years a successful nation in the sport of professional boxing.
Panama is a thriving nation that adores his boxing champions and seen four of its best fighters inducted into the International Boxing’s Hall of Fame:
Bantamweight World Champion Alfonso Panama Al Brown in the 1920's, the first Latin American world champion in history
2-time Lightweight Champion Ismael Laguna in the 1960's
"Hands of Stone" Roberto Duran in the 1970's
and Featherweight Champ Eusebio Pedroza in the 1980's.
"Those warriors are my inspiration," shared Luis "Pan Blanco" Rios.
"Pan Blanco" Rios was born in Felipillo, a town in the Panamanian western Province of Darien, famous for its amazing breathtaking exuberant tropical vegetation, waterfalls and natural beauty.
CASIMERO GETTING READY TOO!
On the other side of the planet, Filipino IBF world champion John Riel Casimero, promoted by Sammy Gello-Ani and Sampson Lewkowicz, proceeds with training of his own in his native Philippines under the guidance of his head trainer Christopher "Ping Ping" Tepora, likely at the Omega Gym along John Paul II Avenue, Barangay Mabolo in Cebu.
The fight will be Casimero's second defense of his IBF Jr. Flyweight crown. His first defense was a slit decision win six months ago in Mexico.
The March 16 card in at the plush Hard Rock Hotel in Panama is a production of international promoter Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing LLC in association with Sammy Gello-Ani of Cebu’s SGG Sports Promotions, and Panama's Sports Channel TV Max Channel 9.
BoxingScene will be in ringside in Panama for daily reports on the Casimero-Rios IBF Jr. Flyweight title fight.