SHOWING no rust from a 10-month layoff, John Riel Casimero came out firing and knocked out Duke Micah in the third round yesterday (Saturday in the US) to handily retain his World Boxing Organization bantamweight crown at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
After two action-packed rounds, Casimero pounced, connecting with a devastating left-right uppercut combination early in the third round to rock Micah, prompting American referee Steve Willis to step in and stop the match.
The Filipino fighter set up the impressive win by sending the African to the canvas in the second round with a left hook, followed by a right uppercut, in what proved to be the turning point, leaving the challenger badly shaken.
Showing he still had a lot left in the tank, the Ormoc City pride ended his explosive showing atop the ring by doing one-armed pushups, which could have elicited roars and cheers had there been a gallery around. No crowds are allowed in US pro fights.
Casimero made his first successful defense of the WBO bantamweight belt he wrested from South African Solani Tete with a similar third-round stoppage on Nov. 30, 2019 at the Birmingham Arena in Birmingham, England.
It was the Filipino’s 30th win and 21st knockout against four losses while handing the African his first loss in 25 fights.
Casimero then taunted Japanese World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation super bantamweight kingpin Naoya Inoue, who had evaded a unification bout with the former earlier this year until the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“I’m the real monster. Naoya Inoue is scared of me. You’re next,” he said, mocking the moniker of the Japanese.
But the reigning champ had good words for Micah, saying: “In the first round I saw the body shot hurt him and I thought I could get him out right away, but he’s a good boxer who was undefeated for a reason.
“I knew I was facing a good fighter, so I didn’t expect to knock him out so fast. He’s strong so I was prepared to go all 12 rounds.”
Based on statistics compiled by Compubox, Casimero threw 140 punches, connecting on 59 of them, all of them power shots, while Micah connected just 26 of the 122 punches he threw, 18 of them power shots.
A stable member of MP Promotions owned by Manny Pacquiao, the Pinoy champ said that he would look for other option if a unification fight with Inoue does not push through.
“If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters,” Casimero said.
Veteran Cuban Rigondeaux, 39, holds the regular WBA super bantamweight strap after fashioning a split decision win over a Venezuelan opponent last Feb. 8 at the PPL Centertown in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Mexican Nery once held the WBC bantamweight belt.