New titleholder Johnriel Casimero wants Chocolatito challenge
MANILA, Philippines — Johnriel Casimero isn’t looking to sit on his newly acquired IBF flyweight title, as the Filipino boxer now seeks a unification showdown with WBC and RING flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez.
Casimero, 26, is one week removed from scoring a fourth-round knockout of previously unbeaten Amnat Ruenroeng in China to win a world title in his second division. The Filipino road warrior, who racked up a seventh different stamp on his boxing passport against Ruenroeng, acknowledges the danger that comes along with facing the man considered to be the best fighter pound-for-pound on the planet.
“I really want that because it’s a big fight,” Casimero (22-3, 14 knockouts) tells RingTV of Gonzalez (45-0, 38 KOs). “‘Chocolatito’ is very good, a very good boxer. I’ll try my best.”
“This was his dream even when he was a junior flyweight,” says Sammy Gello-ani, Casimero’s Philippines-based promoter. “(Casimero) has been an experienced fighter outside of his country and I think it’s high time he has to face a very high profile opponent. If he will be given a chance, he will have a chance to win this fight.” Gello-ani adds that Sampson Lewkowicz, Casimero’s Las Vegas-based representative is “doing something also” to bring the fight along. Calls and an email to Lewkowicz were not returned by the time of this article’s publication.
Casimero rose six spots in THE RING’s ratings, from No. 10 to No. 4, with his most recent win. It was his first fight in 11 months and a rematch of their foul-filled first fight, which ended in a Ruenroeng decision win in Thailand. Gello-ani said the wait for their mandatory opportunity was so long that Casimero had considered moving up to 115 pounds and chasing a fight with IBF junior bantamweight titleholder McJoe Arroyo, “but that was not realized, too.”
Carlos Blandon, the manager of Gonzalez, tells RingTV in an email that it’s Teiken Promotions’ job to vet offers for Gonzalez’s fights, but that he had not heard of any discussion regarding a fight with Casimero. Blandon dismissed the challenge, and those from RING junior flyweight champion Donnie Nietes and WBA/WBO flyweight titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada, as “a desperate cry for fame and the urge of feeling knocked out by the #1 P4P Boxer in the world right now.”
Blandon adds: “For now we have not heard from any of these ‘dreamers.’ We would would love to have Roman fight all of them one by one, we need brave rivals like the ones Roman has faced. Most of them are scaredÔÇªand hide behind ‘tweets’ and local media.”
Nietes had previously voiced his interest in a fight with Gonzalez at 112 pounds, but his promoter, ALA Promotions, has since turned their attention toward the Mexico-based Estrada, who gave Gonzalez a respectable fight in a 2012 decision loss. Nietes will first have to face WBO mandatory Moises Fuentes for the third time on Sept. 24 at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Casimero is back home in Ormoc City, Philippines on one month’s rest, Gello-ani says, after which he’ll report back to Yraola Gym in the capital region of Quezon City to resume training with Jhun Agrabio for his next assignment.
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.