Casimero foe unveiled

Casimero foe unveiled

MANILA, Philippines — MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons yesterday ended speculation on who will challenge WBO bantamweight champion JohnRiel Casimero in Connecticut on Sept. 26, pulling a rabbit out of his hat to name unbeaten No. 11 contender Duke Micah of Ghana as the Ormoc slugger’s next opponent.

Accessibility was a key factor in finding Casimero’s challenger because of the pandemic and since Micah lives in New York, he doesn’t need to fly in from another country. Besides, Micah was once rated No. 7 by the WBO but inactivity had dropped him out of the top 10 although he stayed in the fringes at No. 11. For sure, Micah’s no slouch with a 24-0 record, including 19 KOs. He has held the WBO Africa, British Commonwealth and WBC International bantamweight titles.

Gibbons said he looked around for a suitable opponent and even considered Mexican Alejandro Santiago, who held IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas to a split draw two years ago, for “two seconds.” But when Micah’s name came up, Gibbons knew he was the perfect choice. “Micah’s a great opponent who comes to fight,” said Gibbons. “He lives and trains in New York. It was important after the roller-coaster ride the last five months that Casimero gets back in the ring and fights.”

Asked for Casimero’s reaction, Gibbons said the fighter couldn’t be bothered. “Casimero doesn’t care whom he fights,” said Gibbons. Casimero has never ducked an opponent, daring to face hometown heroes on hostile soil in Argentina, Mexico, Panama and the UK. Micah’s no exception. Although Casimero is three inches shorter than the 5-7 Micah, height has never been an issue with the Filipino brawler. Last November, Casimero tangled with 5-9 Zolani Tete and knocked him out in three rounds in Birmingham to wrest the WBO crown.

Gibbons said Micah has confirmed his availability. “He’s 1,000 percent in,” said Gibbons. For Casimero, it’s a chance to stay active and earn a paycheck while waiting for the triple unification showdown with super WBA/IBF champion Naoya Inoue to materialize. Still, he can’t take Micah for granted. Micah, 28, is known as the Baby-Faced Terminator and trains with Kwame Asante, the man who guided Ghanaians Joseph Agbeko and Joshua Clottey to world titles. “Micah trains extremely hard and is very astute when it comes to the science of boxing,” said Michael Amoo-Bediako who co-manages the fighter with Jacob Zwennes, quoted by The Ring’s Ryan Songalia. He saw action in the 2012 London Olympics.

Micah won his first 13 outings by KO. Last December, he got up from a third round knockdown to outpoint Janiel Rivera by a unanimous decision in Brooklyn. Three of his five wins on points were close decisions. In 2016, Micah scored a split 12-round verdict over Michael Chanda in Bethnal Green, UK. The next year, he beat Jose Santos Gonzalez on a majority 10-round decision in Queens and in 2018, defeated Thomas Snow via a split 10-round verdict in Brooklyn.