By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
FILIPINO world boxing champion John Riel “Quadro Alas” Casimero is no stranger to high-stakes fights but undoubtedly his unification bantamweight title clash with Japanese star “Monster” Naoya Inoue enhances his resumé further.
This was the take of local boxing analyst Nissi Icasiano when asked by BusinessWorld for his thoughts on the much-eyed clash of three-division champions Casimero and Inoue in April.
Set to happen at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on April 25, the fight will see the two fighters stake the titles they currently hold — Mr. Casimero the WBO world bantamweight championship and Mr. Inoue the WBA and IBF titles.
When the clash was made official earlier this month, 31-year-old Mr. Casimero expressed his excitement over finally landing a showdown with Mr. Inoue, 27, and vowed to come out triumphant.
It was a reaction not at all surprising from Mr. Casimero’s end, said analyst Mr. Icasiano.
“Becoming a world champion is just one of the few things on a boxer’s bucket list. For Casimero, he did it in three divisions. The only thing that is missing on his curriculum vitae is sharing the ring with a high-profile name in the sport that could define his career as a boxer, raise his stock and marketability as an athlete, and create a new fan base. This is what awaits John Riel Casimero on April 25. Not only that, he will get the opportunity to unify and take home three titles. He has everything to gain,” said Mr. Icasiano in underscoring the significance of the Inoue fight for Mr. Casimero.
But while the potential windfall for the Filipino is huge in his next fight, Mr. Icasiano said Mr. Casimero (29-4) has his work cut out against a fighter with the quality of Mr. Inoue (19-0).
“Inoue is a complete boxer. He packs power in both hands. The Japanese knockout artist is the clear favorite on paper. To me, he is a Swiss knife with a pair of eight-ounce gloves,” said the analyst.
Mr. Icasiano, however, was quick to say that Mr. Casimero has what it takes to beat the Monster and would be better served taking cue from what another Filipino champion, Nonito Donaire, Jr., did against Mr. Inoue in their last fight in November 2019.
“Casimero is not a flashy fighter or a technically sound boxer, but his awkwardness and unconventional approach could play a factor or could at the very least pose problems on the part of Inoue,” he said.
“Casimero has the power to get the job done. But he has to hit the target and avoid wasting his punches. As seen in the fight between Inoue and Donaire, Casimero should know by now that with the right precision and timing, he can hurt the Japanese powerhouse… Donaire showed the world that even if Inoue may seem to be invincible, he can get hurt,” Mr. Icasiano added.
In his last fight, despite winning by unanimous decision, Mr. Inoue was pushed to the limit by Mr. Donaire and broke the former’s long string of dominant knockout victories.
Mr. Icasiano said that if Mr. Casimero is to come out with a victory, he must set the tempo of the fight, and go for every opening he has while also limiting any slippage in his attack.
“If Casimero wants to walk away with the upset, he has to force Inoue to play within his pace. In that manner, he can pick his shots, land the cleaner blows, and keep himself checked from committing recklessness that will entice the Japanese. The longer the fight goes, the better for Casimero,” Mr. Icasiano said.
The Casimero-Inoue title fight is Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Ohashi Promotions, MP Promotions, TGB Promotions and SGG Sports Promotions.