By Rene Bonsubre Jr – John Riel Casimero entered the ring an underdog and exited with the WBO world bantamweight belt in his hands. There were questions in the minds of boxing pundits going into this fight if the grizzled Filipino road warrior could handle Zolani Tete’s southpaw stance and huge height and reach advantage.
It seemed the South African had the advantage in the first two rounds with both tentative to engage in close quarters.
But, in the third round, Casimero managed to close the distance in a flash and seemed to have sneaked in a body shot causing Tete to bend down at the waist. A shot to the side of Tete’s head followed split second later and sent him crashing to the canvas.
Tete got up on unsteady legs and Casimero moved in for the kill. Tete was dropped a second time but still managed to get up. Casimero cornered him and the referee mercifully called a halt.
The 30 year old Casimero is now 29-4,20KO’s. He previously held the IBF light flyweight and flyweight titles. This win boosted his stock on the list of multiple world title holders from the Philippines – Manny Pacquiao with eight, Nonito Donaire with four plus one interim belt and Donnie Nietes has four.
The 31 year old Tete drops to 28-4,21KO’s. He beat Filipino Arthur Villanueva by a one-sided unanimous decision in 2017 for what was initially the interim version of the WBO title. He would later be elevated to full champion. Tete suffered a shoulder injury last April, days before he was supposed to fight Nonito Donaire in the WBSS bantamweight tournament semi-finals. Tete has not had an actual fight in thirteen months.
Casimero has seen action thirteen times outside the Philippines in nine different countries. After he celebrated with his cornermen in Birmingham, Casimero called out the division’s top gun, unified IBF/WBA champion Naoya Inoue of Japan.
With both boxers getting a lot of press in their respective countries, this will surely be of one of the biggest fights for 2020 if the powers that be will sign the contracts.