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John Riel Casimero moves on from Inoue, will face Duke Micah instead on Charlo PPV card

Zolani Tete falls to John Reil Casimero. Photo by Action Images via Reuters/ Peter Cziborra
Fighters Network

John Riel Casimero has moved on from his delayed unification bout against Naoya Inoue and will make his first defense of the WBO bantamweight title on September 26 against unbeaten Ghanaian Duke Micah.

The fight will open up the Showtime pay-per-view doubleheader at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. featuring Jermell and Jermall Charlo against Jeison Rosario and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, respectively.

Casimero (29-4, 20 knockouts) of Ormoc City, Philippines had been scheduled to face WBA/IBF titleholder Naoya Inoue in April, before the pandemic put that fight on ice. He had gone through a “rollercoaster” of developments while waiting to see if Inoue would be able to get a visa to come to the U.S. to make the fight happen.

“So we decided it’s time to move on for now,” said MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons of Casimero, who won the title in his third weight class with a knockout of Zolani Tete in November. “It’s been so up and down, wanting to go home at one moment. The hardest thing for a fighter to train is not having a date, not really knowing what’s going on.”

The wait was so long that Casimero’s trainer Nonoy Neri has already gone back to the Philippines ahead of him. In his place, Casimero has begun training under former WBA junior featherweight titleholder Clarence “Bones” Adams at Adams’ gym in Las Vegas. The two know each other well, since Casimero had trained at his gym when he first came to the United States for a training camp several years ago, and Gibbons has a rapport with Adams since he had matched many of his fights when he was an active fighter.

“Bones knows what he’s doing and Casimero doesn’t need a lot,” said Gibbons. “It’s not like you’ve gotta reinvent the wheel.”

Duke Micah. Photo by Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

Micah (24-0, 19 KOs) was a 2012 Olympian for his native Ghana, making it to the round of 16 in the flyweight tournament before losing to Michael Conlan.

The 28-year-old trains with Andre Rozier in Brooklyn, N.Y. and is handled by Premier Boxing Champions. In his last fight, Micah got off the canvas to win a unanimous decision against Janiel Rivera on the Jermall Charlo vs. Dennis Hogan card last December at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. Micah is rated no. 11 by the WBO.

Gibbons says that among the other opponents who had been pitched for Casimero were former WBA bantamweight titleholder Rau’shee Warren as well as Alejandro Santiago Barrios, who had bedeviled Jerwin Ancajas in their IBF junior bantamweight title fight two years ago, which ended in a draw. Also considered was a rematch with Pedro Guevara, the former WBC junior flyweight titleholder who Casimero had handed his first defeat to in 2012 by split decision in Mexico.

Now, Gibbons says this fight is the biggest opportunity for Casimero to date, considering that it’s his first time on a major network in the United States, and an impressive win could get him on the radar for other big fights, especially if the showdown with Inoue cannot be rescheduled.

Among the names that Gibbons has on a wishlist, aside from Inoue, is Luis Nery, who fights Aaron Alameda for the vacant WBC junior featherweight title on the same card. Casimero took aim at Nery over the weekend, accusing him of avoiding a fight between the two.

“He’s shown interest in Guillermo Rigondeaux, he’d love an all-Filipino match with Nonito Donaire if he’s successful with [WBC bantamweight titleholder] Nordine Oubaali [on December 12], and of course there’s that guy that we were supposed to fight, Inoue. So Casimero has a lot of avenues he can go at 118 and 122 but we’re not looking past Duke Micah.

“Duke Micah is like a lot of other fighters from Ghana. He comes right at you, hands high, wants to bang, solid fundamentals and I can guarantee somebody is getting knocked out, one way or the other. You don’t gotta find this guy, that’s what’s great about this fight.”

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected]