Sunday, September 24, 2023  |


Paul Butler will only face Casimero replacement Joseph Agbeko for world title

Photo by Scott Heavey/ Getty Images
Fighters Network

Disappointing news came out of Dubai on Friday that John Riel Casimero’s WBO bantamweight title defense against Paul Butler, which was due to take place at the Coca-Cola Arena, is off.

Casimero, according to his cutman Stephen Lunas’ Facebook page, has been suffering from viral gastritis. However, rumors abound that the fiery Filipino star was struggling to make the 118-pound limit.

At time of writing, former two-time bantamweight titleholder Joseph Agbeko was to step in as a very late replacement for Casimero.

“It’s hugely disappointing that Paul isn’t fighting Casimero because training camp has gone really well,” Butler’s trainer, Joe Gallagher, told The Ring.

“What I find weird is that the kid pulls out and the guy Paul was supposed to fight in an eliminator months back is already here and ready to step into the fight. It’s a bit like the Olympics; you just turn up and whoever you draw, that’s it.

“Agbeko missed weight the first time and had to go a run in order to make weight. That fight is on at the moment, but we’re all waiting to see if the WBO are going to sanction it for the title.”

Butler and Agbeko were penciled in to contest a WBO title eliminator in June but the bout fell through. While Butler is perfectly willing to face Agbeko on Saturday, he has told reporters in Dubai that he will not enter the ring unless the WBO belt is on the line.

“Paul has said if there’s no world title there’s no fight,” confirmed Gallagher. “He’s fully locked and loaded into fighting for a world title and getting back on the plane as a two-time world champion.

“If they say it’s Agbeko in a 10-rounder or it’s for an interim, that’s of no intertest to Paul – we’re here to win a world title. Casimero couldn’t make weight, so hopefully they strip him and make the [Agbeko] fight for the vacant world title. That’s what we’re here for.”

Butler (33-2, 15 KOs) is rated No. 1 by the WBO at bantamweight. Agbeko (38-5, 28 KOs) currently resides in the No. 10 spot.


Tom Gray is Managing Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing



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