CEBU CITY – International matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz handed the interim International Boxing Federation light-flyweight belt to Johnriel Casimero on Thursday at the SM Cebu Activity Center, almost a month after a riot-marred title fight in Argentina.
”I have been in a 20-hour flight to bring it personally to a well-deserved champion,” said Lewkowicz.
Casimero, 16-2 with 10 knockouts, won the interim IBF strap last month with a 10th round technical knockout over veteran Luis Alberto Lazarte in Argentina.
The fight was marred by controversy after Casimero and his team were attacked by a mob of angry Lazarte fans.
It was a bittersweet victory for Casimero because not only was he and his team mauled, but he also lost a brother here in the Philippines before the fight.
”I’m happy that I already have the belt. I already feel that I’m a world champion,” Casimero said.
Casimero, the 22-year-old Ormoc City native, will have his first title defense on May 13 at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City.
Casimero will be defending his interim IBF light-flyweight belt against former Mexican world champion Sammy “Guty” Gutierrez.
The 26-year-old Gutierrez is a veteran boxer with a 31-7-2 slate, including 21 knockouts.
He won the interim World Boxing Association mini-flyweight crown in 2010 with a third-round stoppage over Luis Carrillo.
He defended it once against Filipino Renan Trongco but lost it last year with unanimous decision loss to Juan Palacios.