John Riel Casimero seemingly opened a lot of doors to lucrative opportunities after not only successfully defending his WBO bantamweight belt and winning his fifth straight title bout, but also adding Guillermo Rigondeaux’s name to his resume.
The Filipino boxing star looked to be on his way to big things, but like many stories in boxing, some questionable behavior along with serious management issues derailed all of that.
An all-Filipino title bout against Nonito Donaire was set, but some ugly remarks Casimero and his team directed towards his opponent’s wife (and manager) cost him that payday. Soon after, Casimero continued to have management issues.
Instead of getting the high-profile title unification bouts with Donaire or Naoya Inoue that he wanted, Casimero just got a relatively short-notice mandatory title defense against Paul Butler. To make matters worse, his promoter didn’t bid on that contest, and he ended with a near minimum purse and a significantly lower $78,750 salary.
The issues didn’t end there, as Casimero pulled out of that December bout right before the weigh-ins. He claimed it was due to gastritis, but Butler accused him of just lying about a poor weight cut.
According to Bad Left Hook, the match up with Butler, which Casimero didn’t even want in the first place, has been rebooked for April 23 in Liverpool. The WBO, in an attempt to ensure it pushes through this time around, issued Casimero an ultimatum.
The sanctioning body basically threatened to strip his title and declare it vacant “in the event that Casimero does not attend the official weigh-in for any reason whatsoever, refuses to fight, is injured or suffers an injury, or is unavailable to participate regardless the circumstances.”
While he’s going into this contest taking a pretty steep pay cut, and possibly a lack of motivation, this bout could represent a crossroads in Casimero’s career.
He and his team can continue to botch things then lose his world title — in or out of the ring — or he can try to salvage those opportunities by impressively beating Butler and fixing his management issues. The silver lining for Casimero is that accomplishing the latter could still get him back in the conversation with the likes of Inoue and Donaire, but it’s obviously a lot easier said than done. A lot of pieces will need to fall perfectly into place, and everything should likely start even before the actual fight with Butler.
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