John Riel Casimero could see his next title defense fall in the hands of the highest bidder.
A purse bid hearing was called by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) for the ordered bantamweight title fight between defending champion Casimero and mandatory challenger Paul Butler. The ruling comes just five days after the two sides were granted a 20-day negotiation period, only for Butler’s team—headed by Lee Eaton of MTK Global—to request the matter to go straight to a purse bid scheduled for October 7 at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“Please be advised that on September 22, 2021, the WBO World Championship Committee ordered the commencement of the negotiations for the above-referenced mandatory championship contest,” Luis Batista-Salas, chairman of the WBO Championship Committee stated in a letter to all WBO-registered promoters. “The parties were granted 20 days to reach an agreement or purse bid proceedings would be called per WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests.
“On September 27, 2021, this Committee confirmed receipt of email correspondence by Mr. Lee Eaton of MTK Global, on behalf of WBO Bantamweight Mandatory Challenger Paul Butler. As outlined in our negotiation letter dated September 22, 2021, any of the parties herein may request purse bid proceedings at any time during the negotiations and therefore, the request filed by Mr. Eaton is hereby granted.”
The session will be open to all WBO-registered promoters, who are required to meet or exceed the $100,000 minimum bid limit in order to obtain rights to the title fight.
Eaton put in the request after sensing that a deal wasn’t going to be reached with MP Promotions, who promotes Philippines’ Casimero (31-4, 21KOs)—a three-division titlist who has held the WBO bantamweight title since a third-round knockout of Zolani Tete in November 2019.
Two title defenses have followed for Casimero, a third-round knockout of unbeaten Duke Micah last September and a twelve-round decision win over long-reigning lineal junior featherweight titlist and current bantamweight contender Guillermo Rigondeaux this past August in Carson, California.
The fight with Rigondeaux was scheduled earlier this spring, only for hopes of replacing the fight with a unification bout versus countryman Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27KOs) shortly after the Fil-Am superstar captured the WBC title. The two initially agreed to terms for an August 14 clash, only for Donaire to remove himself from the mix due to a breakdown in drug testing procedures along with claims of misogynistic comments directed at wife/manager/trainer Rachel Donaire from Casimero’s camp.
Donaire was left without a fight, while Casimero proceeded with the originally scheduled clash with Rigondeaux which he won in a painfully dull affair.
Casimero offered an apology earlier this month to Donaire, who accepted the olive branch. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to work its way into a new deal between bantamweight titlists, both of whom are pressed with mandatory title defenses.
Butler (33-2, 15KOs) briefly held the IBF bantamweight title in 2014 before vacating in pursuit of a shot at a junior bantamweight title. The Cheshire, England native came up short in a March 2015 bid versus Tete who held the IBF 115-pound title at the time. Nine wins followed before dropping a twelve-round decision to then-unbeaten Emmanuel Rodriguez in their May 2018 vacant IBF bantamweight title fight.
Butler, 32, has since won his last seven starts. In his most recent appearance, Butler claimed a ten-round decision over Willibaldo Garcia this past June in Bolton, England. The victory positioned him as the number-one contender to Casimero’s crown.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox