In a great clash of truly world class fighters, John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs) sensationally knocked out belt-holder and favourite Zolani Tete (28-4, 21 KOs) in the third round of their clash at the Birmingham Arena in the UK.
After two very quiet rounds, it was Casimero who doubled up his right hook that buckled Tete’s legs before forcing the stoppage in impressive fashion, taking “Last Born’s” WBO World Championship at Bantamweight in the process.
The South African hadn’t been in the ring since the quarterfinal of the World Boxing Super Series over a year ago, where he unconvincingly outpointed inexperienced Russian Mikhail Aloyan (then 4-0, 0 KOs). Meanwhile the Filipino had been busy, with this being his fourth outing of the year. The difference in schedule proved vital as Tete, who is known as a puncher at the weight, seemed pretty gun-shy in the short time he was fighting.
Victory for Casimero spells the second win in as many fights in the UK for the Pacquiao-promoted fighter from Ormoc City. He also became a three-weight titlist in the process, previously beating Pedro Guevara (35-3-1, 20 KOs) for the IBF light flyweight title and Amnat Ruenroeng (20-3, 6 KOs) for the IBF 112-pound championship in 2016.
For the winner, the obvious money fight in the division is with World Boxing Series winner Naoya Inoue, but whether of not Casimero will take that fight next, straight after a big step-up like this, is yet to be seen, but that didn’t stop the delighted titlist calling “The Monster” out in his post-fight interview with BT Sport.
Newly crowned Casimero joins the previously mentioned Inoue as one of the kings of division, sharing that status with Frenchman Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) in a division that is still wide open, widened more so by the induction of amateur standout Guillermo Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KOs) who fights against former world title challenger Liborio Solis (30-5-1, 14 KOs) next month before Christmas.
The crafty Cuban is definitely the wildcard in a division that boasts more than it’s fair share in mouth-watering fantasy matchups, with tonight’s upset adding to that list further. In a victory that has surely left the division reeling, Casimero in his performance more than reiterated the fact that what these men lack in size, they make up for in power.