Reigning Filipino bantamweight world champion John Riel Casimero has a daunting challenge ahead of him in the form of Japanese knockout artist and fellow world titlist Naoya Inoue.
The two 118-pound titleholders — Casimero holds the WBO belt, while Inoue reigns in the WBA and IBF — face off with all three belts on the line in Las Vegas on April 25.
While Inoue is arguably the toughest opponent for Casimero, the Filipino fighter already knows what his next move will be, if he can get past the undefeated Japanese star.
"Itong kay Inoue, 'pag tapos nito, ang next fight kukunin ko 'yung WBC kay [Nordine] Oubaali," Casimero boldly stated during a press conference in Manila, Wednesday.
"Kapag nakuha ko na 'yung apat na belt, kung ano 'yung plano [ng promoter ko], kung magdedepensa o aakyat ng timbang, kung ano 'yung para sa kanila na maganda na laban, hinihintay ko lang 'yung [sasabihin nila], ng promoter ko."
Should Casimero beat Inoue, he will own the WBO, WBA and IBF belts. Currently, the WBC champ in the same weight division is France's Oubaali.
Oubaali, however, is expected to defend his title against mandatory challenger Nonito Donaire Jr.
If everything falls into place, Casimero and Donaire might face one another. For Casimero, he has no qualms in facing his countryman.
"Wala namang problema kung maghaharap talaga kami, kasi trabaho lang naman 'yung ginagawa namin," Casimero said.
"Magandang laban kung makarating 'yung puro Pilipino."
Sean Gibbons, president of MP Promotions, which currently promotes Casimero, went into a bit more detail as to their plans.
"When he beats Inoue, we're going to look at, of course, a rematch," Gibbons said.
"Inoue's giving us the opportunity first to fight, so if he wants a rematch, great, If not, then as John Riel said, it hasn't been done in a long, long time, I can't even remember the last time a unified title was done in bantamweight, all the belts plus The Ring Magazine belt, it would be a monster fight, no pun intended.
"And then after that, I think Casimero has, with the right fights and the right style, he could go up one more division. He's a very thick and strong, he's shown good power, he's kept his power from 108 to 112 to 115, to now, 118. After we unify, we put the belts all together at 118, we'll see what he feels like doing, if he wants to take a shot at 122," Gibbons added.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.