Johnriel Casimero retained his International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight title with a close split decision win over previously undefeated Mexican challenger Pedro Guevara at the Mazatlan Convention Center in Sinaloa, Mexico.
Judge Levi Martinez had Casimero ahead by one point 114-113 while Matthew Podgorski had the Filipino the winner by a comfortable 116-111 margin. The third judge Dr. Ruben Garcia scored the fight for the hometown boy 114-113.
With the win, Casimero improved to 17-2 with 10 knockouts while Guevara suffered his first setback and dropped to 18-1-1 with 13 knockouts.
A stunning first round flash knockdown by Casimero dropped Guevara with a perfectly timed uppercut. He followed it up with another knockdown in round six when he caught the Mexican on the side of the head but referee Ramon Corona ruled it a slip. The Mexican fighter went down twice in round ten, one of which for sure was a result of being off-balance.
Guevara, to his credit, fought back using his height, reach, and boxing skills to make it a close fight.
Casimero however connected with the more telling punches and was also the more aggressive fighter pushing the action in the so-called championship rounds despite Guevara being cheered on by his hometown crowd.
In a post-fight interview, Casimero said, “He kept running and I got tired chasing him and although only one knockdown was called by the referee the second knockdown in round six helped get the decision.”
Sammy Gello-ani added, “I was worried because it’s not easy to fight in Mexico. It’s very difficult. He had to drop Guevara to win and I am happy that he did and also happy with the result.”
He also added that Casimero’s timing was off because Guevara was running.
Casimero had won the interim title fighting abroad last February when he scored a tenth round TKO over Argentina’s Luis Lazarte. The match however was marred by a post-fight riot in which Casimero, trainer Christopher “Pingping” Tepora and Gello-ani himself were attacked.
Casimero also fought for the IBF flyweight title against Moruti Mthalane in South Africa and lost by a fifth round TKO on March 26, 2011.
He failed in his bid to win WBO interim title in Mexico losing by a split decision in Mexico to Ramon Garcia Hirales. Hirales subsequently lost the title to Donnie Nietes in Bacolod City last October 8, 2011.
Gello-ani said, “I want to bring the next title defense home but we need financial help from sponsors to be able to afford it otherwise we will be forced to stage the optional defense abroad.”
The replay of Pinoy Knockout: Casimero vs Guevara will be shown this Friday, August 10 starting at 7:30pm.