MANILA, Philippines – International Boxing Federation (IBF) light-flyweight champion Johnriel Casimero is hard at work as he prepares to defend his title against Panama's Luis Alberto Rios on March 16 in Panama City.
Casimero (17-2, 10 KOs) told Rene Bonsubre of PhilBoxing that he is currently looking for more sparring partners outside of the Omega Gym in Cebu City, where he trains.
"I sparred with Marjun Yap, but I have not yet sparred with (WBO light-flyweight champion) Donnie Nietes," he said.
"I need to look for more sparring partners aside from my Omega Gym stablemates. There are good boxers at the ALA gym who can approximate Rios' fighting style," Casimero said.
Casimero is making the second defense of the world title that he won against Argentina's Luis Lazarte last February 2012.
He first defended the belt against Pedro Guevara in the latter's hometown of Sinaloa, Mexico, and wound up winning via split decision.
Casimero is expecting a tough challenge against Rios (18-1-1, 13KOs), who carries a seven fight winning streak into the bout.
"It will be difficult, but he can be beaten," said the Filipino champion.
PhilBoxing reported that Casimero will leave for Panama on March 10, accompanies by trainer Pingping Tepora and promoter Sammy Gello-Ani.