Rigondeaux vs. Casimero: Master Blaster

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A legendary ringmaster faces a hard-hitting daredevil when Guillermo Rigondeaux and John Riel Casimero clash for Casimero's WBO World Bantamweight title Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.

This Saturday, August 14, live on SHOWTIME, headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, two-division world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1, 13 KOs) faces WBO World Bantamweight Champion John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) in a high-stakes, winner-take-all clash of styles. 

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) will focus on the wildly competitive 118-pound division. In the co-main event, unbeaten contender Gary Antonio Russell meets former world champion Emmanuel Rodríguez for the WBA Interim Bantamweight title. In the opening bout of the telecast, former world champion Rau’shee Warren takes on Damien Vázquez in a 10-round bantamweight battle.

The Story

As a two-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the most accomplished amateurs of all-time, Guillermo Rigondeaux came into the pro game with much fanfare following his defection from his native Cuba in 2009.

Making his professional debut at the age of 28, Rigondeaux moved quickly up the ranks. He would win an interim world title in his seventh contest and then his first world title in just his ninth bout.

Universally regarded as one of the most skilled fighters in the game, the Miami resident boasts high-water mark victories over Rico Ramos, Nonito Donaire, Joseph Agbeko, and Moises Flores. His lone career setback came two-divisions above his optimal weight against Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2017. 

Just a month shy of his 41st birthday and having shown vulnerability in recent bouts, Rigondeaux is aiming to re-affirm his status as an elite-level fighter this Saturday.

John Riel Casimero is a three-division world champion and current WBO bantamweight titlist. The Filipino banger is also a true road warrior, having fought in eleven different countries over the course of his 14-year professional career. Saturday’s SHOWTIME bout will be only his second televised contest in the United States. 

A protege of Manny Pacquiao, he fights under Pacquiao’s MP Promotions banner and has trained alongside the legendary Filipino icon.

A former flyweight and light flyweight world champion, Casimero captured the bantamweight title via third-round stoppage of defending champ Zolani Tete in November of 2019. His first defense came last September via third-round TKO of Duke Micah.

The flashy battler comes into Saturday’s bout riding high on a six-fight stoppage streak.

The Stakes

At stake is Casimero’s WBO bantamweight title. Both fighters are also looking to win convincingly and further affirm their status.

The Matchup

Rigondeaux is a genius-level southpaw ring technician who has mastered the subtleties of the sweet science. Utilizing angles, footwork, changes in pace, and general misdirection to throw opposition off-kilter, he turns foes into tentative pawers while creating scoring opportunities for himself. 

A wicked counter-puncher with underrated pop, his offensive output seems limited by his own desire to be offensive. He’s good enough to box circles around most and potshot his way to victory, but he’s also good enough to go the rougher, more fan-pleasing route and put some hurt on opposition. In recent fights he’s been doing more of the latter. 

Defensively, Rigondeaux is a master and can stifle most anyone’s offensive game. He’s been more hittable lately, but the question is whether that’s a function of his advancing age or an intentional effort to be more offense-minded.

We’ll see if he’s able to back up that talk on August 14. Two-Division World Champion - Guillermo Rigondeaux

The 34-year-old Casimero is all bluster and blister. An offensive fighter through and through, he is not at all subtle in his ring approach. He comes forward looking to make impact, using a sharp jab as a setup tool. His best weapon is a quick right hand that he employs often, but his left also delivers a substantial jolt. A strong and tenacious focus on body work is an overlooked aspect of his power game and one which is every bit as effective as his bombs upstairs.

On defense, Casimero is nothing special, but he does move his head well and rolls with punches to lessen impact. Like most offense-minded fighters, though, he’s hittable, gladly sacrificing some defense for better offensive positioning.  

The Words

Guillermo Rigondeaux

“I’m not worried about Casimero’s power or anything he brings. I’ve fought in three divisions and I’ve gone after the biggest challenges every time. Casimero is going to do his job and I’m going to do mine. We’ll both bring our ‘A-games’ and see who comes out on top. He says he’s going to retire me, so it’s on now. We’ll see if he’s able to back up that talk on August 14.”

John Riel Casimero

“When I beat Rigondeaux on August 14, he’s going to retire. He’s finished. Finito! I know that he’s a great fighter, a two-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist. I want to do my best. I prepare very well for every fight. I just hope Rigondeaux leaves his bicycle at home and brings his boxing shoes and comes to fight.”

The Breakdown

Casimero-Rigondeaux could be a case of an irresistible force meeting an unhittable object. It could also turn out to be a flat-out war between an offense-minded warrior and a defensive master who, either by design or necessity, sits in the pocket and goes toe-to-toe. 

If Rigondeaux plays the role of master boxer, Casimero will have to cut through the misdirection and sleight of hand to force a battle. He must wear down the Cuban, both mentally and physically, to create offensive opportunities for himself. 

Rigondeaux, whether at his defensive best or not, will have trouble keeping away from the explosive Filipino’s quick hands. At some point, he’ll have to earn Casimero’s respect and some operating distance by landing his own big shots. That’s when a boxing match could turn into a firefight. 

Casimero’s chances improve immeasurably if we see more battle than boxing Saturday night. 

Rigondeux, meanwhile, will be best served with the slowed-down pace of his choosing, bringing about pause and confusion in Casimero’s attack. 

Any way you look at it, Rigondeaux-Casimero should be a compelling clash of styles and a real treat for fight fans who enjoy true elite-level boxing.

For a closer look at Rigondeaux vs Casimero, check out our fight night page. 

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