Boxing: Casimero outpoints Rigondeaux, retains WBO crown

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 15 2021 12:21 PM | Updated as of Aug 15 2021 12:58 PM

John Riel Casimero celebrates before a split decision win against Guillermo Rigondeaux
John Riel Casimero celebrates before a split decision win against Guillermo Rigondeaux in the 12th round during their WBO Bantamweight title 12 round bout at Dignity Health Sports Park on August 14, 2021 in Carson, California. Michael Owens, Getty Images/AFP

(UPDATED) It wasn't the fight that John Riel Casimero expected, but he still got the win that he wanted.

Casimero defeated Cuban veteran Guillermo Rigondeaux via split decision to retain his WBO bantamweight championship, in a bout that was not well-received by the crowd at the Dignity Health Sports Complex in Carson, California on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

Two judges scored the bout 116-112 and 117-111 in favor of the Filipino, and one judge had the fight 115-113 in favor of Rigondeaux.

Casimero had predicted a third round knockout of Rigondeaux, but the third round came and went without much action as the Cuban repeatedly moved back and did not engage. 

"My expectation is a knockout," the 31-year-old Casimero told Showtime's Jim Gray after the fight. "I want a knockout, all my fans want a knockout."

"I will do my best to knock him out, but Rigondeaux is always running, running," he added. "I'm focused on the knockout, but Rigondeaux is always running. No fighting."

Casimero, who was making the second defense of his WBO belt, stalked Rigondeaux for 12 rounds but found himself repeatedly missing as the Cuban slipped his punches and moved backwards. 

Rigondeaux was repeatedly encouraged by his corner to let his hands go, but the veteran showed little inclination to stand toe-to-toe with Casimero.

Casimero did land more power punches but was clearly frustrated by the second half of the fight as Rigondeaux continued to evade him. At one point in the seventh round, Casimero stood in the middle of the ring with his hands out, inviting Rigondeaux to engage.

"That was embarrassing," said Sean Gibbons, president of MP Promotions, said afterward. "They should hold up that man's purse. That was one of the worst displays of a fight I've ever seen."

Casimero won for the seventh consecutive fight, improving his record to 31-4.

Rigondeaux, meanwhile, lost for only the second time in his professional career, dropping his record to 20-2. 

With Rigondeaux now out of the way, Casimero says his focus is on title unification fights with WBC bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, and WBA and IBA champion Naoya Inoue. 

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