Saturday, March 25, 2023  |


Casimero to face Sultan, winner to be no. 1 contender for Ancajas

Johnriel Casimero works the mitts.

MANILA, Philippines – Two Filipino road warriors are set for an attractive home game as two-division titleholder Johnriel Casimero and upcoming prospect Jonas Sultan will meet in a title elimination bout on September 16 at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City, Philippines underneath IBF junior flyweight titleholder Milan Melindo’s defense against Hekkie Budler.

The winner will become the No. 1 contender to IBF junior bantamweight titleholder Jerwin Ancajas, who is also a Filipino, setting the stage for the first all-Filipino world championship fight since 1925, when Pancho Villa defended his flyweight championship against Clever Sencio in Manila.

“When this opportunity came, it was something I always mentioned before, we were willing to do the best fights out there, even if it’s Filipino vs Filipino,” says Sultan’s promoter Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotions. Aldeguer has voiced interest in promoting the winner – whoever it may be – in a fight against Ancajas, who is promoted by Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions.

“I’ve always said ‘Pinoy Pride,’ when we launched in 2010, the thrust was always to promote Filipino fighters. Casimero is one of the best fighters out there. He’s two-division world champion, he’s a great fighter and it’ll be a pleasure to promote him.”

Casimero (24-3, 15 knockouts) of Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines is a former IBF junior flyweight and IBF flyweight champion. He’s one of the sport’s most traveled fighters today, having fought in countries like South Africa, Argentina, China, Mexico and England, defeating the likes of Amnat Ruenroeng, Charlie Edwards and Pedro Guevara. The 27-year-old vacated his 112-pound title last year in search of a third world title.

Sultan (13-3, 9 KOs), of Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines, is two years younger with much less experience but has also earned a reputation for winning abroad, knocking out world-ranked fighter Makazole Tete in South Africa, plus Tatsuya Ikemizu in Japan. In his most recent fight, Sultan knocked out former flyweight world champ Sonny Boy Jaro in eight rounds.

Casimero, who is already in training in Manila, told this reporter on Sunday that he would be facing Sultan next, saying “magandang laban yan” (It’s a great fight). Sultan’s trainer Edito Villamor says his fighter has been in camp for the past month at the ALA Gym in Cebu City.

Casimero’s promoter Sammy Gello-ani says Casimero-Ancajas came about because the contenders rated Nos. 4, 5 and 6 – Toshiyuki Igarashi, Jamie Conlan and Rex Tso – turned down the opportunity to face the No. 3 ranked Casimero in the elimination bout. The seventh ranked Aston Palicte, also a Filipino, is a close friend of Ancajas and declined the opportunity, Palicte’s manager Jason Soong says, leaving the eighth-ranked Sultan as the highest available challenger.

“This is also an opportunity for another Filipino, Sultan is the IBF Inter-Continental champion so he deserves it. Let’s give the boy also a break, it’ll be a good fight. This is good because two good fighters will be fighting each other,” said Gello-ani, adding “we have no choice, we have to do it.”

Gello-ani had previously promoted Ancajas and says he would be open to taking a title fight with one of the other champions instead if the opportunity arose.

The fight goes a long way towards the acceptance of all-Filipino fights of significance, which has been a divisive subject in the community. Aldeguer had previously said that it would be better to see top Filipinos avoid clashes and set different courses for world title fights, but sees this as an opportunity to demonstrate the unseen potential of the local scene.

“Some people have a sensitivity [about Filipino vs Filipino fights] but right now where Philippine boxing is, if there are great fights out there and it’s significant, and it shows the world that we’re at par with the best in the world, we should be proud about that,” said Aldeguer.

The fight will be part of the Pinoy Pride 42 card televised by ABS-CBN, with junior welterweight boxer Jason Pagara set to compete in the co-featured bout against an opponent to be named.

This past weekend, 3-time U.S. Olympian Rau’shee Warren defeated McJoe Arroyo in Brooklyn, N.Y. in a fight which will see the number 13-ranked American leap to the number two position when the next IBF rankings come out, says Ancajas’ matchmaker Sean Gibbons.

Ancajas (27-1-1, 18 KOs) of Panabo City, Davao del Norte last made a mandatory defense on July 2, knocking out Teiru Kinoshita of Japan in 7 rounds on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao vs Jeff Horn in Australia. That would mean Ancajas’ next mandatory defense would be due 9 months later, in April.

Ancajas’ manager Joven Jimenez told this writer that he could be making his U.S. debut in his next fight, either in October or November, with an announcement possible next week.