John Riel Casimero’s ring return will take place in a new weight division.
The former three-division titlist is set for his junior featherweight debut, as he will face streaking contender and former title challenger Ryo Akaho on December 3 at Paradise City in Incheon, South Korea. The fight was formally announced on Monday by Treasure Boxing Promotion, headed by recently retired former WBO junior lightweight titlist Masayuki Ito.
The show will also include a junior lightweight clash between former two-division titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (69-11-1, 56KOs) of Mexico City and Tokyo’s Takuya Watanabe (38-11-1, 22KOs).
Assuming he avoids any further hiccups in his career, Casimero will end an inactive stretch of roughly sixteen months once he enters the ring. The brash 32-year-old former titlist from Ormoc City, Philippines has not fought since a twelve-round, split decision victory over former lineal junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux last August 14 in Carson, California. The fight turned out to be the final defense of the WBO bantamweight title he’d held since November 2019.
Back-to-back failed efforts to defend against mandatory challenger Paul Butler resulted in Casimero being relieved of his title. He was sick to the point of hospitalization ahead of his eventually canceled fight with Butler last December 13 in Dubai. Efforts to reschedule this past April in Butler’s hometown of Liverpool, England ended with Casimero violating a UK fight week rule of improper sauna use, leaving him unable to fight and with the WBO declaring his title vacant.
Casimero previously held major titles at junior flyweight and flyweight. His bantamweight reign caught the most attraction, particularly in his once being in line to face unbeaten three-division champ and pound-for-pound entrant Naoya Inoue (23-0, 20KOs) in a three-belt unification bout in April 2020. The anticipated clash was postponed due to the pandemic, with plans never revisited as the two went their separate ways.
There is now a chance of their possibly meeting up at junior featherweight, where Inoue intends to campaign after his undisputed bantamweight championship showdown with Butler on December 13 in Tokyo.
Casimero will have to show far more discipline in and out of the ring to give himself a fair chance. He also has to get past a credible opponent in Akaho, whose only defeats have come at the title level.
Akaho (39-2-2, 26KOs) has won thirteen straight fights since suffering a second-round knockout to Pungluang Sor Singyu in their August 2015 vacant WBO bantamweight title fight. The 36-year-old from Yokohama most recently scored a first-round knockout of The Philippines’ Edring Dapudong on September 3 at the famed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. His other defeat came in a New Year’s Eve 2012 points loss to then WBC junior bantamweight champ Yota Sato at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Live TV rights were not revealed at the time of the announced fight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox