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By Rene Bonsubre, Jr.

Sat, 10 Sep 2016

The battle is half won.

John Riel Casimero beat the scales and was able to make weight for his IBF flyweight title defense against British challenger Charlie Edwards. Casimero?s trainer Jun Agrabio, informed this writer that Casimero weighed 111.5 lbs while Edwards was 111.6. Reports from London had both a pound under the division limit.

Casimero's weight has been a recurring reason for worry.

Two years ago, when he was the IBF world champion in the 108lb division, he lost his world title during the weigh-in for his fourth title defense against Colombian Mauricio Fuentes in Cebu City. He was a shocking five pounds above the stipulated weight and was an ex-champ when he entered the ring. But he still decked Fuentes three times and stopped him in the opening round.

Casimero moved up but lost to Thai Amnat Ruenroeng in a stinking, foul-filled match in Bangkok, Thailand last year. In his rematch and title win against Ruenroeng in Beijing,China, Casimero struggled to shed excess pounds to the point of nearly collapsing.

But the predicament also showed Casimero's courage and determination.

Trainer Jun Agrabio told this writer last week during my visit to their training camp that even when Casimero was weak from dehydration,he leaned on Agrabio and told his trainer that he will place his life on his hands, and to hold him up, because he will walk, even if it kills him, to sweat and make weight.

Casimero was at the point of risking his life, just for a chance of revenge against Ruenroeng. And he did it in style, knocking out Ruenroeng in four rounds last May.

Agrabio posted on social media that Casimero was three lbs over the limit, three days before the official weigh-in. It was considered as good news by boxing pundits considering the boxer's history.

It was reported earlier on philboxing that Atty. Danrex Tapdasan of the Philippines will be one of the fight judges together with Glen Hamada of the U.S and Michael Alexander of the U.K.

Atty. Tapdasan will also be a judge on the IBF bantamweight title bout between British boxers Lee Haskins and Stuart Hall. Haskins was at 117lbs while Hall, 116.5 during the weigh-in.

Casimero (22-3-0, 14KO) is also very fortunate that his defense against Edwards (8-0-0, 3KO) will be on the undercard of the highly anticipated WBC/IBF middleweight between champion Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan and Kell Brook of the U.K. Both boxers also made weight, Golovkin 158.9lbs, and Brook at 159.4lbs. The card will be at the O2 Arena in London and considering the time difference, will be on early Sunday morning Manila time.

The 26 year old Casimero has a 6W-3L record on foreign soil. This will be his first fight in Europe. Aside from China, he has also registered victories in Nicaragua, Argentina, Mexico and Panama.
I remember from the conversations that we had for the past few years that he relishes the bigger payday that he gets abroad. But he longs for another title defense at home, preferably in his hometown, Ormoc City.

Photo - Johnriel Casimero after his training session, two days before he left for England.

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