By CARLO ANOLIN
John Riel Casimero and veteran Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux, two elite fighters in the bantamweight division, will dispute the Filipino’s WBO belt today (Sunday, Manila time) at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Casimero came in at exactly 118lbs while Rigondeaux registered 117.5lbs during the official weigh-in Friday there.
The two shared a light moment as Casimero handed his sunglasses to Rigondeaux with both sluggers leaving a huge smile on their faces.
Now consider this as the calm before the storm.
Aside from the WBO bantamweight title at stake, Casimero and Rigondeaux are set to reaffirm their status as the top boxers in the division.
Oddmakers see Casimero as -230 favorite while Rigondeaux is +190.
“I have respect for Rigondeaux because Rigondeaux is a good boxer and a two-time Olympian (gold medalist),” said the 31-year-old Casimero, who owns a 30-4 record on top of 21 knockouts. “But I want to show the world that I can knock him out and a lot of my fans want to see him get knocked. So, let’s do this”
Casimero, oozing with confidence, credited his coach Nonoy Neri of Manny Pacquiao (MP) Promotions for giving him the “hard training” heading into his second bantamweight title defense.
Rigondeaux, the regular WBA champion, for his part, remained as the man with the few words and vowed to defy age once they clash in the ring.
“I’m not gonna tell you guys anything right now. I’m gonna show you on Saturday. You’re all gonna see on Saturday what’s gonna happen,” said the 41-year-old Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, with the help of a translator.
“Outside the ring, I respect anybody. Inside the ring, I respect nobody,” added Rigondeuax, who has 20 wins with 13 KOs and one loss at hand.
Rigondeaux, who stands at 5-foot-7, gets the upper hand in terms of height and reach over the 5-foot-4 Casimero. The Cuban slugger also has a 171 cm reach advantage compared to the Filipino 163 cm.
Casimero rides on a six-match win streak with the latest coming from his first title defense against Ghanian boxer Duke Micah last September via technical knockout while Rigondeaux scored a split decision win over Liborio Solis of Venezuela in February last year.
The winner is likely to improve their chances of getting a title unification bout against WBC champion Nonito Donaire and Japanese icon Naoya Inoue, the super WBA, IBF, and The Ring titleholder.