WBO bantamweight king John Riel Casimero was left frustrated but ultimately victorious as he failed to stop an elusive Guillermo Rigondeaux before retaining his crown on the cards at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, on Saturday.
In a bout that never caught light, the more aggressive Casimero won by scores of 117-111 and 116-112, overruling a 115-113 nod for the Cuban veteran.
“I’m excited to get the win,” said Casimero afterwards. “I was worried, because he said he wouldn’t run, but he ran the whole time. My expectations were for a knockout. Me and all my fans wanted that. I did my best to knock him out, but he was just running and not fighting.”
Rigondeaux had his moments, but his refusal to engage did not sit well with the fans and two of the judges.
“Nobody wants to fight with me because I frustrate them in the ring,” said Rigondeaux. “I landed the punches that I needed to in order to win the fight tonight. This is how I win. I have these god-given skills and this is the way I display them. I’m a unique fighter. It’s my style and it’s the only one I know.”
The Cuban was down in the first round after a left hook to the back of his head, but referee Jerry Cantu ruled a slip before warning the Filipino for throwing shots when Rigondeaux was on one knee.
Rigondeaux then relied on his slick defence to exasperate Casimero and the crowd. The Filipino pressed the fight and tried to slow the Cuban’s legs with shots to the body, but was unable to pin the veteran down. The double Olympic gold medallist remained dangerous with his left hand, but lacked the devil and workrate to take the title.
Now the Filipino puncher has unification bouts on his mind. “I had a three-fight plan. First was Rigondeaux and I beat him. Next is [WBC champion] Nonito Donaire and then finally [WBA Super and IBF king] Naoya Inoue,” said Casimero.
On the undercard, the WBA Interim 118lbs title clash between Gary Antonio Russell and former IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez ended in a No Decision after just 16 seconds of the opening round when an accidental head clash injured Rodriguez and stopped the bout before any meaningful action.
Earlier, former WBA ‘Super’ bantamweight champion Rau’shee Warren blew out Damien Vazquez in two and hot 140lbs prospect Brandun Lee earned his 13th first-round win by dropping Ezequiel Fernandez three times in the opener.
Main image: Sean Michael Ham/Premier Boxing Champions.