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Displaying too much firepower and tons of experience, Filipino champion Johnriel Casimero crushed British challenger Charlie Edwards in the tenth round Saturday night (early Sunday in Manila) to retain the International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight title at the O2 Arena in London.
Making the first defense of the IBF 112-lb crown, Casimero floored Edwards, 23, with a counter left hook and although the challenger rose, a hybrid left uppercut-hook from Casimero, 26, and a right compelled referee Steve Gray to step in one minute and 57 seconds into the round.
It was Casimero all night long even though Edwards also had his moments midway through the scheduled 12-rounder.
But it was clear Casimero was a huge step in class that Edwards simply was overwhelmed by his fancied foe’s array of weapons.
Casimero paced himself and methodically broke down Edwards with crisp combinations, head and body shots that either staggered or frustrated the game and gutsy hometown bet.
The victory boosted Casimero’s record to 23-3 with 15 KOs. The loss dropped Edwards’ slate to 8-1 with three KOs.
Casimero was forced to go elsewhere to defend the title owing to difficulties finding a major backer in the country, a move that the Leyte-born fighter has been used to as he has performed twice in Mexico and once each in South Africa, Thailand, China, Panama, Nicaragua and Argentina.
It was in Argentina where Casimero became a true road warrior when he and his team endured a riot that erupted after he mauled local bet Luis Lazarte a few years ago.
Supporters of Lazarte threw debris into the ring and even attacked his cornermen as they tried to leave the ring en route to the dressing room.
Casimero saw guns sprawled on the floor and even bullets scattered, making him realize that they were all about to die.
Luckily, they found a way to reach the dressing room and got escorted out of the venue in the city of Mar del Plata.
Casimero’s initial defense of the title he won only last May with a knockout of Thailand’s Amnat Ruenroeng in Beijing, was underneath the headlining world middleweight title contest starring Gennady Golovkin.
Casimero is one of four reigning Filipino world champions after super-bantam Nonito Donaire, bantam Marlon Tapales and newly-crowned super-fly king Jerwin Ancajas.
Meanwhile, Team Casimero, bannered by promoter-manager Sammy Gello-ani, is expected to arrive in Manila early Tuesday night on a Philippine Airlines jet from Heathrow. (Nick Giongco)