By Nick Giongco
John Riel Casimero scored a brutal tenth-round knockout of tall and rangy Mexican challenger Cesar Ramirez late Saturday night to remain on course for a showdown with World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight king Zolani Tete of South Africa before the year ends.
Gasping for air after struggling to make the 118-lb limit on the eve of their fight for the WBO interim title, Casimero floored Ramirez with a vicious pair of uppercuts with the second one sending his mouthpiece flying out and the fight fans at the San Andres Sports Complex erupting in cheers.
Puerto Rican referee Ramon Pena didn’t even bother to count as American matchmaker Sean Gibbons, the handlers of Ramirez and medical personnel, rushed towards the fallen fighter.
It was a sudden ending as it appeared that the fight will go the full route with Casimero gassing out and Ramirez fading as well.
Casimero was awarded a total of four knockdowns, including a questionable one in the fifth frame.
Although it appeared that Ramirez was soundly beaten, it wasn’t totally true as Casimero was on the receiving end of the game and gutsy challenger’s left jabs and looping right straights especially in the middle rounds.
There were a few times when Ramirez had Casimero backtracking, knowing that the flashy Filipino was an agonizing sight the day before their duel.
But Casimero swore that he was just phasing himself since he had already felt that Ramirez was slowly melting away.
“I was just phasing myself,” said Casimero, who boosted his record to 28-4 with 19 KOs. Ramirez, who was applauded by the crowd that included Manny Pacquiao, dropped to 18-5.
Casimero was almost stripped of the interim title and the chance to fight Tete after failing to make the bantam limit.
“We thought we’d easily make the weight because the fight was being held here,” he said.
Against Tete, who he expects to face in late-November, Casimero admits he learned a big lesson.
“We will prepare harder,” said Casimero.