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Be careful of what you wish for. This saying might aptly apply to John Riel Casimero after he made the Filipino boxing community happy by retaining his World Boxing Organization Bantamweight title by split decision against Guillermo Rigondeaux.
It was Casimero’s second successful defense of the title after he TKO’d Duke Micah during his first.
Their “boring” fight became the talk of the town because it registered historical significance. It was not just as historical as the one he lost when he decided to run his mouth instead of letting his hands fly.
To refresh everyone’s mind, Casimero suddenly found himself in a title unification fight when WBC counterpart Nonito Donaire accepted to take over as opponent in the August 15 fight some two months ago. This would have been the first ever boxing title fight involving two Filipinos at opposite ends.
That was until Casimero’s trashtalking forced Donaire to pull out of the fight some two weeks after and waved goodbye to become part of a historical fight.
That leaves him with his original opponent: Rigondeaux. Funny coincidence, this bout gained him a historical record when his hands couldn’t back what his mouth blurted. It is just that the rcord is something he should not want to become a part of.
You see, Casimero and Rigondeaux put on a show that fans didn’t have much to see as the bout established a new record for total lowest punches landed in a 12-round bout.
Compubox showed Rigondeaux landed only 44 of 221 punches while Casimero did not do much better with 47 of 297. Their combined 91 punches landed eclipsed the combined 100 landed during the Mario Barrios – Devis Boschiero bout held on July 9, 2016.
Rigondeaux was surely the main culprit for this record. He was a slick “running man” this night, just satisfied of not getting hit and proving Casimero’s trashtalk of knocking him out as trash.
For his part, Casimero fought an intelligent fight in his goal to retain the title, showing aggressiveness by chasing Rigondeaux, still retain defensive awareness against counter shots, and doing just enough damage. Hindi lang basta sugod ng sugod, not just recklessly charging in just to land shots.
Those who still doubt his IQ, his standing in the middle of the ring and also refusing to engage at a certain point of the fight is proof he is not stupid to fall into Rigondeaux’s trap.
This, however, left many hanging dry. It was clear a lot of boxing fans, although more clearly annoyed at Rigondeaux, wasn’t exactly happy with Casimero’s performance either. They were clearly clamoring more from “Quadro Alas”.
Casimero earlier bragged of a third round knockout. He did took off with a great game plan to make good of his word. It was at full display during the first two rounds.
Then Rigondeaux made an adjustment. Sensing his kissing the canvass could come into fruition, he elected not to be knocked out and just to finish the fight on his feet by becoming passive and dancing out of trouble’s reach.
Casimero, in turn, played into Rigondeaux’s game plan and defeated him at his own style. He was aggressive enough but also cautious enough not to absorbed lethal counter punches, well-known strength of the Cuba native.
Thing is, Casimero’s critics insisted he suddenly couldn’t touch the Cuban. His aim suddenly became inaccurate when his target is moving. In short, they are questioning his lack of other boxing skills.
They have some good valid points.
A great fighter always finds a way to carry a fight and make it fan-friendly in the event the action stalls.
It is upon Casimero to find a way make the bout fan-friendly, like turning it into a lopsided fight even if his opponent refuses to engage, to prove his marketability stock.
Of course, he has to take some risks, force the issue and dictate the pace in doing this. He has to bring the fight to a passive fighter and turn on the intensity. This is what great fighters do that impresses fans into watching their fights.
Casimero could control some things inside the ring. It’s in this aspect that some pundits are criticizing him for, his failure create action with the available things he can do.
A lot suggested he could have cut the ring and play with the angles given to him. It’s not just chasing him, it’s chasing him to a corner and letting his hands fly.
Truly, it is a wonder why a slugger like him attempted just 297 punches and landed only 47 of them. During a good night, he could land 297 during an entire 12-round fight.
Casimero said he studied Rigondeaux’s style so there should be no excuse why he could not dismantle his opponent’s wheels and has to be this gun shy. He connected only 1 shot in the 3rd and 2 in rounds 2, 4 and 12.
Rigondeaux’s style has been the same since he was younger, yet Casimero looked unprepared and surprised that he was riding a bike the whole bout.
This tentativeness almost costed him the title. One of the judges had it 115-113 for the Cuban but the other two gave him the nod, 117-111 and 116-112.
Team Casimero should not let their elation that their possession of the title is intact cloud the possibility that another performance like this will prove they came away fortunate in retaining the belt.
Regaining some of the lost of fan trust that he can come up with a fan-friendly fight no matter who the opponent is should become part of his team’s agenda for his next fight.
In hind sight, they must be probably wishing they have not irritated Donaire, a fighter whose style can carry fights to greater heights, to the point that he had to pull out of their bout.
Donaire should have been a lot, lot better fighter at the opposite corner on this Sunday noon, even at the expense of greater possibility of losing the bout. Not to mention he induces bigger audience and purse.
By Armando M. Bolislis