MANILA, Philippines – New International Boxing Federation (IBF) light-flyweight champion Johnriel Casimero has no problems fighting in other countries, even after a traumatic experience in Argentina earlier this year.
Casimero won the interim IBF title when he knocked out Luis Lazarte in the 10th round in Lazarte’s hometown in Argentina. Lazarte’s supporters rioted after that fight, with Casimero and his team getting caught in the crossfire.
Yet he insists he has no qualms about defending his newly won belt overseas. Casimero will make his first title defense this Saturday against Pedro Guevara, in Guevara’s hometown of Sinaloa, Mexico.
“I like fighting in other countries because the prize is much bigger, plus I get to carry the country’s name,” Casimero told Ryan Songalia of RingTV.
Casimero’s fight against Guevara will be his fifth abroad.
Both Casimero and his manager, Sammy Gello-Ani, acknowledge that there is the possibility that the boxer will be victimized by a hometown decision or bad officiating and judging, but it is a risk they have to take.
In a separate interview with PhilBoxing, Casimero said he is confident that what happened in Argentina will not happen in Mexico.
“My last fight was a nightmare, besides winning the title,” he said. “We were at the mercy of 300 (people) without any police help, but I know that events will be different in Mazatlan.”
Casimero also expressed his appreciation for the knowledgeable Mexican fans.
“Mexico is a country where they know boxing and they applaud the winner, even if he is not Mexican. They are experts and they cheer for the best fighter, even if he is not Mexican,” he said.
But Gello-ani admitted that promoting a Casimero fight in the Philippines is a dream of his, and hopes that his fighter’s continued success abroad will catch the attention of local television networks and sponsors.
“Casimero is not a big name yet. We are hoping if ever we can successfully defend our title in Mexico, we’re hoping that the television will turn their back like, ‘Oh, I think we have to support Casimero,’” Gello-Ani told Songalia.
“So we have to let him be exposed more, we have that prestige of fighting abroad and i think that the television will come after us after this,” he added.