IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston seeks the betting value in tonight’s fascinating WBO bantamweight title clash between Filipino puncher John Riel Casimero and Cuban maestro Guillermo Rigondeaux in California.
On a packed boxing weekend, perhaps the most intriguing fight sees John Riel Casimero of the Philippines meeting Cuba’s Miami-based Guillermo Rigondeaux in a battle of bantamweight stars outdoors in the Los Angles suburb of Carson, California.
If you like the younger Casimero to win you’re looking at odds of 2/5 (-250) at Betfred, with the ageing but still formidable Rigondeaux offered at 13/8 (+165).
A solid case can be made for both men. Indeed, Rigondeaux opened as the favourite in the US although now he’s showing as the underdog on both sides of the pond.
Rigondeaux, Cuba’s two-time Olympic gold medallist, is a masterful technician and he hits powerfully with the left hand from his southpaw stance. But he turns 41 next month. That’s really getting up there in age for a boxer in the lighter weight divisions, even one who hasn’t been in that many hard fights such as Rigondeaux.
WBO champion Casimero is 32. He was a belt holder at 108 and 112 pounds before moving up to 118. It seems to me that he’s hit his stride as a bantamweight. Casimero is punching very hard at 118lbs, with six KO wins in a row.
Rigondeaux is considered the bigger man because he has been a champion at 122lbs and even went up to 130lbs for what turned out to be a disappointing showing against Vasiliy Lomachenko, while Casimero started out at 108.
However, I thought Casimero looked big and strong at the weigh-in, coming in right on the bantam limit. I understand it was a difficult weight cut for Casimero, but it’s not that unusual for a fighter to be tight at the weight and I’m sure he will be just fine after 30-odd hours to refuel. (I discovered this week that conditioning expert Memo Heredia has been working with Casimero.)
While Rigondeaux is an adept counter puncher and superb technician, I thought he showed signs of ageing in his last two fights. Mexico’s Julio Ceja was outworking Rigondeaux when he got caught and stopped in the eighth round two years ago. In his last fight, Rigondeaux won by split decision over a 37-year-old Liborio Solis. So I do feel that Rigondeaux is at the stage of his career where he could possibly — if you’ll forgive the well-worn phrase — grow old overnight.
Casimero has blown hot and cold, but he seems to have found a level of consistency. His last defeat was four years ago back in the Philippines, when he might have been a little drained making weight for an IBF 115-pound title eliminator. Casimero has won each of his last two bouts by devastating third-round KO, blowing out South African southpaw Zolani Tete and Ghana’s Brooklyn-based Duke Micah, who had a 24-0 record going into the fight. He even did one-arm pushups in the ring after the Micah demolition. Casimero has the look of a very confident fighter who believes in his power.
Rigondeaux, of course, has a much smoother, more calculating style than Casimero, who can be a bit wild with his punches. But Casimero has shown he can be explosive. It’s an intriguing contest.
That left hand of Rigo’s is always a threat. Casimero can’t get reckless. He must apply force in an intelligent way, using footwork to move into position to throw his heavy hooks and right hands. And it’s Casimero’s firepower that I feel is going to tip the balance.
The Filipino fighter’s US representative, Sean Gibbons, told me he doesn’t think Rigondeaux has the legs, at almost 41 years of age, to keep outboxing Casimero for 12 rounds. At some point, Gibbons believes, Casimero will figure out Rigondeaux and get to him.
If you go along with this line of thought, you might like the idea of Casimero to win by KO/TKO. This proposition is offered at 4/5 (-125) across various markets.
Of course, Rigondeaux has the left-hand firing power that has to be respected. There’s always the chance that Rigo could catch Casimero with a perfectly timed shot. Rigondeaux to win by KO TKO is available at 15/2 (+750). This might appeal to those who subscribe to the theory that the last thing a fighter loses is his punch.
Then again, seeing that each man has capacity to hurt the other, we could witness one of those cagey contests in which neither boxer wants to risk getting tagged. In this scenario, a 12-round, full-distance bout becomes a possibility. You’re looking at odds of 5/4 (+125) if you feel like taking a chance on the fight going the distance while “distance — no” is priced at 8/15 (-187) at various outlets.
Casimero to win by decision is offered at 15/2 (+750), which isn’t a bad long-shot bet, bearing in mind that Rigondeaux is a defensive master who has never truly been stopped. (Rigo gave up against Lomachenko when he realised he was overmatched; he was never off his feet and never appeared to have been significantly hurt.)
As ever, then, lots of wagering possibilities out there. The one I prefer is “distance — no”. I believe Casimero is going to be taking it to Rigo and looking to hurt him, and we might see the older man pushed into more of a toe-to-toe fight than he really wants. And if this does indeed become a firefight, it opens up the possibility of Casimero getting clipped by a counter-punch as he goes for the KO.
As a straight pick, I’ll go with Casimero, perhaps by TKO around the ninth round.
My favourite bet of the weekend isn’t on one of the big fights. It’s the over 8.5 rounds at 5/7 (-140) in the Jason Moloney vs Joshua Greer Jr bantamweight contest in Tulsa (same bill as Andrew Moloney’s trilogy bout with Joshua Franco). Greer’s recent form has been disappointing but I think he’s tough enough to go the required number of rounds with big betting favourite Moloney.
In brief: Admittance prices are high, but I like Vergil Ortiz and Joshua Buatsi to win inside the distance against Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Ricards Bolotniks respectively. Ortiz and Buatsi are in real fights here, but they’ve passed every test. Ortiz can box and he can punch and I think he’s getting Kavaliauskas at the right time. Bolotniks is a tough guy who brings pressure but I think Buatsi will be able to time him for a big shot.
Main image: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime.