Sport

Casimero locked and loaded

Casimero locked and loaded

MANILA, Philippines — WBO bantamweight champion JohnRiel Casimero is in Connecticut where he’ll take on unbeaten New York-based Ghanaian challenger Duke Micah in a scheduled 12-round bout on Sunday morning (Manila time) and according to MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, there’s no way the Ormoc slugger is coming back home to the Philippines next month without the belt strapped on his waist.

Casimero has been in the US since February, training for a unification showdown with super WBA/IBF bantamweight ruler Naoya Inoue but the bout never got off the ground. It wasn’t explained clearly why Inoue backed out but the Japanese is now slated to face Australia’s Jason Moloney in Las Vegas on Oct. 31 and Casimero moved on to book a title defense against Micah at the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Top Rank might have held off staging the Casimero-Inoue duel because it’ll be a sure sellout with a live audience when the pandemic is over. Or Inoue thought twice about battling another tough Filipino after Nonito Donaire Jr. gave him a scare in Saitama last year.

Casimero, Gibbons and trainer Clarence (Bones) Adams flew out of Las Vegas and arrived in Connecticut at 1 a.m. last Tuesday. Adams will work Casimero’s corner with Stephen Lunas and cutman Mike Vaz. Lunas, a Filipino and Casimero’s long-time friend, arrives in Connecticut today. Vaz, who’s from New England, was designated by the State Athletic Commission to join Casimero’s corner. Under state rules, a fighter may designate two cornermen but the commission reserves the right to assign a cutman for health and safety reasons.

Casimero, Gibbons and Adams were tested for COVID-19 after landing in Connecticut and results came out negative the next day. They’ve been confined at the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino. It’s only a 10-minute walk to the arena. Casimero works out at the hotel gym in specific hours daily. Two days before the weigh-in tomorrow, Casimero hovered at 122 pounds, four over the bantamweight limit. Strength and conditioning coach Memo Heredia, who worked with Casimero in training camps in Miami and Las Vegas over the last eight months, is not in Connecticut with the team. The commission requires mandatory temperature checks every morning.