JUDGING by the way Johnriel Casimero dispatched Duke Micah with ease, there was no doubt in his mind he could beat even a great champion like Naoya Inoue.
The 30-year-old Filipino poured out his frustrations against the hapless Micah, whom he destroyed in less than 10 minutes to retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight title on Saturday in Connecticut (Sunday, Manila time).
Micah suffered the first loss of his pro career (24-1, 19 KOs) after coming off as a last-minute replacement for the unbeaten Inoue.
Casimero and Inoue were supposed to face off in a unification bout on April 25 in Las Vegas, a highly-awaited showdown between two of the best bantamweight fighters today that unfortunately, was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was reset in August when boxing matches finally resumed sans a live audience.
But for some reason, Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs), failed to travel to the US, forcing the Casimero camp to look for a fight elsewhere.
Inoue, the reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Association (WBA) bantamweight title holder, is now set to face Jason Maloney of Australia on October 31.
“I’m disappointed. And the reason I’m disappointed is because I truly believe I would’ve knocked Inoue out,” Casimero said to BoxingScene.com moments after he made short work of Micah at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“Inoue, in the end, he didn’t want to fight me,” added the 30-year-old native of Ormoc. “He said he had problems with his back, and then he decided to fight someone else.”
And so poor Micah, he had to bear the brunt of Casimero on this great night of boxing when five world championships were fought in a single card.
Casimero's words proved prophetic.
Prior to the fight against Micah, the champion vowed to dispatch the challenger from Ghana inside three rounds.
“I am going to knock out Duke Micah in three rounds,” Casimero declared just after the official weigh-in for the fight held at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“I’ll show the fans who the real Monster is.”
He just did.
Casimero raised his record to 30-4 (21 KOs) and scored his sixth straight knockout win since losing a 12-round unanimous decision against Jonas Sultan three years ago in a title eliminator fight for Jerwin Ancajas’ International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight crown.
This is Casimero’s first defense of his WBO belt after scoring a similar third round destruction of Zolani Tete in Birmingham, England last year.