The Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California plays host to a world title fight this Saturday night, as John Riel Casimero defends his WBO bantamweight title for the third time, as he takes on Cuba’s gifted Guillermo Rigondeaux in the main event which will be broadcasted across Showtime in the US.
Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) was originally slated to meet Rigondeaux, but then went into deep negotiations to meet his Filipino countryman, Nonito Donaire, but that fight was scuppered due to several disagreements between the two parties, and back in comes the 40-year-old.
Casimero has already served as an IBF champion at light flyweight and flyweight, and became full WBO champion at bantamweight to rule at a third weight in 2019, after a spell as interim boss.
The 31-year-old took the full title in style, wiping out the fancied champion, Zolani Tete, in three rounds in Birmingham in November 2019. He has defended once since, a third round stoppage of Duke Micah in September 2020.
Rigondeaux (20-1, 13 KOs) was an amateur standout, capturing Olympic Gold twice in 2000 and 2004 and although he is a two-weight world champion as a professional, his gifted amateur style has not transferred to a fan-friendly one in the paid ranks.
His sole loss came in December 2017, when he retired after six rounds of a Vasyl Lomachenko masterclass in a challenge for the WBO super featherweight title.
He returned with three wins, his last seeing him pick up the WBA bantamweight title in February 2020, edging Liborio Solis via split decision after flooring his opponent in the seventh.
At 40, time isn’t on the side of ‘El Chacal’, and it will take something special for him to turn back the clock this weekend.
Prediction: Casimero is the fresher of the two, but he may just find Rigondeaux‘s style fiddly in the extreme, just as Nonito Donaire did in 2013 when the Cuban took a points win in a frustrating fight. If Guillermo gets past the early to middle rounds, I think he can cause the upset, and take a tight and possibly dull contest via decision.
To confuse title matters further, Rigondeaux‘s WBA belt isn’t on the line in the main event, but the interim version is in the co-main event, as the unbeaten Gary Antonio Russell meets Emmanuel Rodriguez for the bauble.
Rodriguez (19-2, 12 KOs) is a former IBF champion at bantamweight, but he has lost his last two, knocked out in two by Naoya Inoue in Scotland in May 2019, and, in his last contest, he was edged by split decision by Reymart Gaballo.
Washington-based Russell (18-0, 12 KOs) could possibly be getting the Puerto Rican at the right time, and he comes off a technical decision win over former world champion, Juan Carlos Payano, in December 2020.
Prediction: Russell can take a clear decision win here.
The main portion of the card is a bantamweight extravaganza, and Rau’Shee Warren is in action over ten against Damien Vazquez.
Warren (18-3, 4 KOs) is a former world champion at the weight, and has won two on the spin since an unsuccessful challenge for the WBC title against Nordine Oubaali in January 2019.
Vazquez (15-2-1, 8 KOs) is coming off a loss in a challenge for the WBA title at super bantamweight, stopped in ten by Brandon Figueroa last September.
Prediction:The pick is for Warren to come through on the scorecards.