By Adrian Stewart Co
John Riel Casimero retained the WBO world bantamweight championship with a split decision victory over Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba on Saturday night (Sunday in the Philippines) at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
The 32-year-old Casimero got the nod of two judges at 116-112 and 117-111, while the other one gave a 115-113 score in favor of the 40-year-old Rigondeaux, who turned the world title clash to a running game by evading the punches of the Filipino boxer.
“I was excited for this match because Rigondeaux is a good fighter and he said that he was not going to run,” Casimero said. “I really wanted to knock him down but kept on running, running and running.”
Casimero had a good start in the first round as he sent Rigondeaux to the canvas with a short right straight but the referee ruled it as a slip. The Cuban fighter responded in the second round with a couple of good left straights on the Filipino.
The next few rounds, however, were identical in nature with Rigondeaux backpedaling away from the surging Casimero but his left hook and right straight just could not land on the target.
Casimero upped the aggression in the ninth round with more hooks and straights to the body but still could not land cleanly on Rigondeaux as he kept running away from the Filipino fighter.
“Nobody wants to fight with me because that’s my game plan,” Rigondeaux said on his run away from Casimero. “I also believe that I landed the necessary punches to beat him.”
With the victory, Casimero moved up to 31-4-0 win-loss-draw ring record, including 21 stoppage wins, while Rigondeaux saw his record slumped to 20-2-0 slate, including 13 wins by way of knockout.
Meanwhile, Filipino boxer Jonas Sultan (17-5-0, 11 KOs) was also victorious after shutting down American Sharone Carter (12-5-0, 3 KOs) at the latter part of the seventh round.
The Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte-native Sultan was the aggressor to start the match as he unloaded a beautiful left hook on Carter in the opening round to stagger his opponent.
Sultan continued to punish Carter in the succeeding rounds with his left and right combinations before going for the kill late in the seventh round with his flurry of hits on the American.
Raymond Tabugon (22-14-1, 11 KOs), on the other hand, was unsuccessful in his match as he suffered a fifth round stoppage defeat to Juan Carlos Payano of Dominican Republic (24-5-0, 12 KOs).
Payano set the tone early as he knocked down Tabugon late in the first round. He went on to dominate the Filipino fighter in the succeeding rounds before the referee stopped the match in the fifth frame./ASC, WDJ