By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
TITLE fights of Filipino world boxing champions John Riel “Quadro Alas” Casimero and Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas scheduled for next month have been postponed to a later date over concerns on the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In an announcement made yesterday, Top Rank Boxing, which is presenting said fights, said it was postponing all of its events scheduled for March and April because of the COVID-19, with cases of the highly contagious respiratory disease in the United States steadily climbing.
As of this writing, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US have reached 4,667 with 87 reported deaths.
“The health and safety of our fighters, staff and ESPN’s incredible production team is the most important thing as we plan our next steps,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum in a statement.
“We look forward to the day when we can bring our loyal fans world-class boxing once again, but exercising caution is the most prudent thing to do at this moment,” he added.
Affected offerings were those involving Messrs. Casimero and Ancajas.
World Boxing Organization bantamweight champion Casimero (29-4) was to battle undefeated World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champ Naoya “Monster” Inoue (19-0) of Japan in a unification fight on April 25 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Mr. Ancajas (32-1-2), the IBF super flyweight champion, meanwhile, was set to defend in Las Vegas his title against Mexican challenger Jonathan Rodriguez (21-1).
Thirty-one-year-old Casimero expressed his excitement over finally landing a showdown with Mr. Inoue, 27, and vowed to come out triumphant.
He is looking at it as a great opportunity to further solidify his standing in the sport in the event of a victory.
“This is it. I’m excited for this fight. Inoue is a big challenge but I intend to fight it out and come away a winner,” said Mr. Casimero, a three-division champion, in the press conference announcing the big fight in February.
“It’s unfortunate that my fight with Inoue was postponed. But it is for the good of many, to keep everybody safe. We’ll continue preparing and be ready,” said Mr. Casimero, who is already in the States, in a Facebook video post after news of his fight’s postponement came out.
Ormoc native Casimero is coming off a win over South African Zolani Tete by way of a third-round knockout in Birmingham in November while Mr. Inoue beat Filipino Nonito Donaire by unanimous decision in Saitama, Japan, also on the same month.
Mr. Ancajas, for his part, was to engage Mr. Rodriguez in a fight that was supposed to happen on Nov. 3 last year.
Because of the failure of the Mexican to secure his US Visa on time, leaving him unable to complete his medical requirements, Top Rank decided to cancel it.
The Filipino champion eventually got to defend his title a month later against replacement challenger Miguel Gonzalez of Chile, who he defeated by technical knockout in the sixth round to retain his IBF title for the eighth straight time.
Mr. Ancajas was in thick of preparation in Manila as news of the cancellation of his fight broke out.
He was previously training in Dipolog City in Zamboanga.