Donaire thinks all-Filipino bout is ‘good’ but Casimero says they have beef to settle
Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
Two Filipino champions will be squaring off for the first time.
Soon after Nonito Donaire’s historic win that made him bantamweight world champion again, “The Filipino Flash” was quickly booked and set for a quick turnaround on August 14. His next bout will be a title unification against fellow Filipino champ John Riel Casimero.
The Philippines has had a long and storied history of boxing greats, but this will somehow be the very first time two Filipino world champions will go up against each other.
Donaire and Casimero acknowledged the awkward nature of fighting a countryman to unify titles, but ultimately, both fighters feel like this is actually a good thing.
“I’m just really, really, really focused on it right now. You know, I’m in tremendous shape still so I’m just excited,” Donaire told Fight Hype about the match up. “Regardless if it’s Filipino-Filipino, it’s a good thing because now you have people who are at the top of the top and they’re fighting each other now, because we got more world champions. And regardless of what it is, the champion is going to be a Filipino.
“It’s a blessing and people can be really proud that they’re seeing us (Filipinos) at the very very top.”
Casimero also apologized to Filipino fight fans, but explained how this just happens when you have two champions at the top with the same goals.
“I can already smell my destiny coming. I’ve reached the best, the goal that I’ve been trying to achieve for a long time. We all wanted to be the best, and it happened that now two Filipinos will be fighting. Sorry if that’s not the best scenario, but it’s only three of us at the top as champions now,” Casimero said in Filipino and translated by Bloody Elbow. “(This affects) pound-for-pound too. This bout is for history, guys. This will be a great fight.
“Filipinos should be happy, because no one can take this honor from us, and whoever wins will still be the one carrying our flag. It’s only Filipino vs Filipino because there’s only a few champions reigning at the top, and it’s the first time. Please support our decision, because we both just want to be the undisputed best in the world.”
As for the matchup itself, the 38-year-old Donaire says Casimero has power, but thinks he’s “flat-footed” and this could end up being easier than his last title win.
“Anybody who has power is a tough guy. Oubaali was very technical. For me, I believe that any fighter can be difficult if you don’t practice enough or if you don’t train enough and if you don’t strategize enough. So I think with the best strategy it can be an easier fight.
“If I was knocking guys out at 126, walking in at this weight, I know I can knock anybody at 118,” Donaire said. “They don’t call me Flash for nothing. As you saw in my last fight, I had a lot of speed, and Oubaali is a fast guy as well. Casimero is known for his power, and he’s very flat-footed, so if he tries to use speed, that’s a big mistake.”
Casimero admits to have looked up to Donaire through the years, but shared a story from several years ago that left a sour taste in his mouth. Getting the first chance to travel and train in the US while he was younger, Casimero says he tried to approach Donaire in the gym during the height of his popularity, but felt snubbed and dismissed.
Now a three-division champion and coming off six straight knockouts, the 31-year-old Casimero says he’ll get a chance to “teach him a lesson” for not even speaking to him.
“I was already a champion then. Donaire’s dad coached me before,” Casimero shared. “His dad knows this. We asked if we can spar with Nonito, but he declined and said he won’t be able to gain anything from me. So shoutout to you, Donaire. You’ll get some.
“I respect Donaire, but when the fight comes, it’ll be a real slugfest. We all know Donaire is good, but I’m in my prime and it is my time now,” Casimero declared.
While the Filipino vs Filipino title unification bout will be a milestone for boxing in the country, both say they have bigger goals after. They each want to face the biggest star in the division in Naoya Inoue next.
“Ultimately my goal is getting that belt and then fighting Inoue for the rematch and be undisputed. That’s the main goal, that’s the goal for me, really,” Donaire said. “I’m going to collect all the belts.”
Casimero also jokes that he’ll actually help Donaire get that loss to Inoue back, but just not the way he thinks.
“I’ll actually help Donaire… by beating Inoue myself. I’ll avenge him myself,” Casimero said with a laugh.