More than a year after being scheduled to fight him in this town, John Riel Casimero had the chance to see Naoya Inoue live in action in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, Casimero’s role was limited to that of spectator rather than participant. The three-division and reigning WBO bantamweight titlist from the Philippines was in attendance to watch countryman Michael Dasmarinas (30-3-1, 20KOs) suffer three knockdowns en route to a third-round stoppage at the hands of Japan’s Inoue in their WBA/IBF bantamweight title fight Saturday evening at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
“It was a great performance by Naoya Inoue,” Casimero told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after the fight. “Michael Dasmarinas fought scared and showed too much respect. But it was great seeing Naoya Inoue live.”
Casimero (30-4, 21KOs) was previously due to bump with Inoue last April in a three-belt bantamweight title unification clash at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Those plans were canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the two ultimately going their separate ways.
Inoue (21-0, 18KOs) has since made two successful defenses of his unified reign. The three-division and current unified bantamweight titlist stopped Australia’s Jason Moloney inside of seven rounds last October 31 at MGM Grand Conference Center before returning to Vegas for his wipeout of Dasmarinas, his IBF mandatory challenger.
Casimero has fought just once since the fallout, annihilating previously unbeaten Duke Micah inside of three rounds last September on Showtime Pay-Per-View. He will next face four-division and current WBC bantamweight titlist Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27KOs) in a title unification clash August 14 on Showtime. Donaire won the WBC belt in a fourth-round knockout of Nordine Oubaali this past May 29, his first fight since a 12-round loss to Inoue in their November 2019 WBA/IBF unification bout and World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament final.
The winner of Casimero-Donaire will undoubtedly serve as the main target for Inoue, with all three parties expressing an interest in pursuing the undisputed championship.
“As of this moment, my focus is on Donaire,” notes Casimero. “I will do everything I can to beat him.
“After that, I will take care of Naoya Inoue.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox