John Riel Casimero’s lone fight of the year was befitting of his bizarre 2022 campaign but ultimately ended on a high note.

The Korea Boxing Member’s Commission (KBMC) voted to change Casimero’s previously declared No-Contest with Ryo Akaho to a second-round knockout win for the former three-division titlist earlier this month. The December 3 junior featherweight clash—which took place in Incheon, South Korea—saw Casimero have to contend with a controversial knockdown call and Akaho overselling a foul which ultimately ended their bout at 2:25 of round two.

Referee Michiaki Someya called for time after Akaho complained of being struck in the back of the head from which the former title challenger from Japan claimed he could no longer continue. The in-ring decision was to declare a No-Contest, though two thorough reviews by the KBMC—and a surprise assist provided by the Akaho camp—overturned the verdict.

“We have convened two deliberative committees and discussed the issue twice,” KBMC chairman John Hwang revealed in an official ruling earlier this week, a copy of which was obtained by “During the fight, Mr. Akaho complained of pain in the back of the head when the referee warned Mr. Casimero about hitting the back of Mr. Akaho’s head. The referee provided Akaho with five minutes of rest, but Mr. Akaho said it was impossible to fight, so the fight ended in a ‘No Contest.’”

“Boxing does not have video [replay] applied in other sports such as baseball and soccer, etc. but if the purpose is to aim for clean sports, the results are justified to change. The rules of competition cannot apply every situation accurately case-by-case. Because nobody knows what will happen in professional boxing. Therefore, KBM changes the result of the fight from ‘No Contest’ to Mr. Casimero’s ‘KO win.’”

Casimero (32-4, 22KOs) hadn’t fought in nearly 16 months prior to the night. The 33-year-old from Ormoc City, Philippines twice failed to honor a contractually bound mandatory WBO bantamweight title defense versus Paul Butler, first after falling ill prior to their canceled clash last December and then being removed from an April 22 headliner in Liverpool after violating BBBofC rules prohibiting sauna use during fight week.

Butler went on to face and beat Jonas Sultan for the interim WBO bantamweight title, which was upgraded to the full version less than two weeks later when Casimero was stripped for failure to honor his mandatory title defense.

All told, it left Casimero out of the ring since a split decision win over former lineal junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux last August 14 in Carson, California. The trip to South Korea doubled as his 122-pound debut, though he had to wait nearly two weeks to officially collect his first win at the weight.

Casimero jumped out to a strong start and had Akaho hurt early in round two. He was overzealous in gunning for a knockout, landing three shots but missing on a follow up. Akaho overshot and pulled down the back of Casimero’s head and sent to the canvas, which referee Someya ruled a knockdown. Casimero laughed off the sequence and proceeded to take the fight to Akaho.

A mid-ring sequence saw Casimero miss with a right hand. His arm went across the back of Akaho’s head, causing the former title challenger from Yokohama, Japan to fall to the canvas. Time was called but action would never resume. Akaho spent the entire five-minute recovery period in a neutral corner, occasionally crouching to the canvas in selling the moment as a blatant foul.

The in-ring decision at the time was to end the fight, thus producing the No-Contest verdict. Subsequent evidence provided to the Korean boxing commission—coupled with the admission from Akaho’s camp that the boxer’s inability to continue was not the result of the ruled accidental foul—convinced the commission to allow justice to be served for Casimero.

“In a letter to KBM after the fight, Mr. Akaho claimed he [lost by knockout],” noted Hwang. “Yokohama Hikari Gym, which Akaho belongs to, also admitted that Mr. Akaho lost by KO. Mr. Akaho said that the damage he received was not due to the impact of the punch hit [to] the back of his head. He took a break and tried to fight again but he gave up because he couldn’t,, and admitted that it was his KO defeat.

“I respect Mr. Akaho’s courage to submit evidence. Times have changed a bit now. The consequences that most people don’t agree with are wrong. I don’t think changing the outcome is degrading KBM’s authority. I wish Mr. Casimero and Mr. Akaho good luck.”

The changed ruling extended Casimero’s current eight-fight win streak. Included in the run is a November 2019 third-round knockout of Zolani Tete to win the WBO bantamweight title, where he became a three-division titlist. Casimero previously held the IBF junior flyweight and IBF flyweight titles. Interestingly, all three title reigns ended outside the ring and with his moving up in weight in his next fight.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox