Casimero's aggression pays off as he wins a nip and tuck affair to retain his WBO World Bantamweight belt Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
The product didn’t last very long in John Riel Casimero’s bleached blonde hair. What once stood starchy and buoyant had wilted on his forehead within minutes of setting his focus on human knuckleball Guillermo Rigondeaux, someone who can be in two places at once.
Both boxers went the entire fight without landing double digits in a round. Casimero, however, connected enough times to be awarded a split-decision victory in defending his WBO World Bantamweight title for the second time, and in the process handing Rigondeaux his second defeat Saturday night on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing from the Dignity Health Sports Park, in Carson, California.
Casimero (31-4, 21 KOs) was awarded the victory on the scorecards of judges Robert Hoyle (117-111) and Daniel Sandoval (116-112), while judge Tim Cheatham (115-113) thought Rigondeaux (20-2, 13 KOs) did enough to win.
As the two fighters met in the middle of the ring after the decision was read, Casimero told Rigondeaux, “You run very well.”
“I’m worried because he said no run, I’m surprised because I respect Rigondeaux, and he ran,” Casimero said. “I wanted the knockout. All my fans wanted the knockout. I did my best to knock him out. Rigondeaux always running, running, always running. Next, first Rigondeaux is finished. Second (Nonito) Donaire and next (Naoya) Inoue.”
Casimero landed 47/297 (16%) total punches to Rigondeaux’s 44/221 (20%).
“No one wants to fight with me, because that’s my game plan, I’m frustrating to boxers,” Rigondeaux said. “That’s necessary amount (44) of punches that I needed to win this fight. That’s why I win. God gave me those skills and that’s how I display them. It’s why I’m unique. It’s my style and it’s the only one that I know.”
It wasn’t enough to sway the judge’s on this night.
In the last minute of the first round, Rigondeaux looked like he was in trouble. A Casimero left hook had stunned the former two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Rigondeaux was on the canvas. However, referee Jerry Cantu did not call it a knockdown.
The 32-year-old Casimero played the stalker throughout the fight. At times, he seemed to give too much respect to the 40-year-old Cuban expatriate. As the sixth round ended, Rigondeaux playfully pivoted around Casimero and flicked a jab.
Casimero motioned to Cantu with his hands up to do something. Cantu followed Rigondeaux back to his corner and warned him not to do it again.
By the seventh round, the paltry punch count had Casimero landing 23 punches to Rigondeaux’s mere 18.
In the eighth, Casimero caught up to with a left hook to the body, followed by a left hook to the head. With punch connects at a premier, every little punch landed was significant. During one moment in the eighth, as Casimero closed in on Rigondeaux, the Cuban landed a counter left right into Casimero’s throat.
Casimero tried pressing the unflappable Rigondeaux in the ninth. But as the fight wore on and the championship rounds approached, Casimero seemed to be gaining strength, while Rigondeaux continued to be, well, Rigondeaux, stoically circling outside and occasionally up on his toes.
Sporadically, Rigondeaux would flick a right-handed jab, then back out before Casimero could trap him. Casimero almost wound up out of the ring falling between the ropes, though it was nothing Rigondeaux did. It came from the impetus in which Casimero missed with a left hook.
The last round was a microcosm of the fight. Casimero stalking Rigondeaux, who ran and dodged and squashed Casimero’s face with a straight left—but never followed up.
After the fight, Casimero’s hair regained its vibrance.
Gary Antonio Russell and Emmanuel Rodriguez ends in a disappointing no-decision
Rodriguez (19-2, 12 KOs, 1 NC) immediately fell, while Russell (18-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC) walked back to his corner. That was it. Referee Sharon Sands waved it over and called it :16 of the first round ruling it a no-decision.
“Heads collide, it happens,” Russell said. “It’s very disappointed. I was in training camp for about four months. I prepared great for this fight. I wanted to out the world on notice. Unfortunately, with the head butt, people didn’t see me perform.”
Rau’shee Warren delivers highlight reel KO of Damien Vazquez
As soon as Rau’shee Warren pulled off his white t-shirt before he even touched gloves, it seemed, Damien Vazquez was on the canvas. Warren, the 34-year-old bantamweight southpaw and the only three-time U.S. Olympian, attacked Vazquez immediately, dropping his fellow southpaw with a right hook with 1:31 left in the first round.
About 20 seconds later, Warren (19-3, 5 KOs) knocked down Vazquez again with a right hook, sending Vazquez down more times in the first round than he had touched the canvas in his career. Referee Ray Corona took a close look as Vazquez’s courage kept him up.
Warren, who hadn’t had a knockout since 2015, then polished off his fine work in the second with a crushing left that sent Vazquez (16-3-1, 8 KOs) reeling down a third time, forcing Corona to quickly wave it over at 2:18.
“I was trying to show them something different this time around,” Warren said. “I have always had the power but this training camp was very different. I was sitting on my punches and working on something different. It worked in the ring.
“I always knew I had that power and I always knew I had that speed. It’s just about taking your time in the ring and letting them come. When I saw the opportunity, I went for it.
“Next fight is a title fight. I am the number one contender for the WBA. I want to thank Al Haymon for putting me in this position. I want to thank my team for pushing me. They know what kind of fighter I am. I guess these next few years, I am going to be champion. Next fight I am grabbing that title. Maybe I will fight the winner of the main event tonight (Rigondeaux vs. Casimero).
“I proved tonight that I’m ready for a big fight. Now it’s back home and back to the gym and back to the drawing board. My corner told me to slow down in the second round and just let it come. I was just trying to let him get comfortable and as soon as I did that I caught him with the left hand.”
On the undercard, super lightweight Brandun Lee (23-0, 21 KOs) stopped Ezequiel Fernandez (28-5-1, 3 KOs) in the first round of scheduled eight-rounder. Bantamweight Juan Carlos Payano (23-5, 11 KOs) stopped Raymond Tabugon (22-13-1, 11 KOs) in the fifth round of a scheduled eight-rounder, while middleweight Alan Castano (14-1, 9 KOs) stopped Christian Aguirre (8-8, 4 KOs) in the third of a scheduled six-rounder. Bantamweight Jonas Sultan (17-5, 11 KOs) stopped Sharon Carter (12-5, 3 KOs) in the seventh of a scheduled eight-rounder and middleweight Benjamin Stanoff won his pro debut over Maycon Oller De Silva (0-2, 0 KOs) by four-round decision.
For a closer look at Rigondeaux vs Casimero, check out our fight night page.