by Nick Giongco
Filipino puncher John Riel Casimero crowned himself as the interim World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight king on Sunday afternoon with a thrilling 12th-round knockout of Mexican heavy-hitter Ricardo Espinoza in Carson, California.
Casimero, 31, swarmed over Espinoza, 21, forcing referee Rudy Barragan to stop the bout after Casimero had floored Espinoza a few seconds earlier.
“Experience ang nagdala sa akin sa panalo (My experience led me to victory),” Casimero told Tempo-Bulletin.
Admitting that Espinoza packed dynamites on both fists, Casimero insists that while he felt his power, he was nowhere near being hurt.
“Malakas pero kaya ko (He’s strong but I can take his punches),” said Casimero, who will be installed as a regular WBO 118-lb titlist if regular champion Zolani Tete decides to vacate.
Tete is under contract to fight in the World Boxing Series, a tournament featuring the world’s bantamweight titleholders.
On April 27 in Louisiana, Tete faces Nonito Donaire.
Casimero, who also reigned as world champion at light-fly (108 lbs) and fly (112 lbs), also scored a knockdown in the sixth round, proof that he was in control of the bout that was being scored a draw before the roof caved in on Espinoza.
Before the stoppage, judge Lou Moret had it 105-103 for Casimero while judge Pat Russell had it 105-103 for Espinoza. The third judge, Zachary Young, saw it 104-104.
“It was Casimero’s experience and strategy that won it for him,” said world champion Rodel Mayol, who cornered for Casimero.
Mayol added that Casimero was also in terrific condition going into the showdown with the fearsome Espinoza.