INTERNATIONAL Boxing Federation (IBF) light-flyweight champion Johnriel Casimero is unfazed by the hostile crowd he expects to encounter again when he defends his title belt against Luis Alberto Rios this Sunday.
The 23-year-old Filipino is staking his 108-lb. crown for the second time in Panama City.
Casimero is so confident of a victory that this early he’s already thinking of unifying the light-flyweight division once he gets rid of Rios.
He said he’s going to ask his manager Sammy Gelo-ani to arrange a possible unification bout against either Adrian Hernandez of Mexico, the World Boxing Council (WBC) champion, or Nicaraguan Roman Gonzales, the World Boxing Association (WBA) title-holder shortly after his match with the Panamanian challenger.
“Gusto ko ma-unify yung belt, kasi ang pangarap ko talaga maging undisputed champion,” said the Ormoc City pride.
An undisputed unified champion meant holding all title belts of the IBF, WBC, WBA, and World Boxing Organization at the same time.
Brian Viloria successfully unified the WBA and WBO flyweight crowns last year with a 10th round technical knockout of Mexican Hernan `Tyson’ Marquez.
“Kaya talagang gagawin ko lahat para hindi maagaw sa akin ni Rios yung belt, mataas pa ang pangarap ko sa career ko,” reiterated Casimero, who survived an attack of an angry Argentine mob after scoring a sensational TKO win against the legendary Luis Alberto Lazarte in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.
Against Rios, Casimero will be up against a fighter who has a knack for backpedaling.
“Yun nga lang ang problema ko sa laban na ito, mahilig umatras ng umatras yun eh. Ganun pa naman ang ayaw kong kalaban,” he added.
DZSR Sports Radio boxing analyst Renato Lirio, meanwhile, warned Casimero against being overly confident against Rios, stressing the champion should put more premium on his jabs and combinations.
“Delikado yung Rios, mautak yun. Kasi atras nang atras yun. Pero nag-iiwan ng suntok. Pwede siyang madale ng decision nun,” stressed Lirio, who hopes Casimero would be mature enough to adopt to the challenger’s style.
Still, Lirio is optimistic the Philippine pride will be able to weather the test, adding that Rios fights very much like Lazarte, whom Casimero disposed inside 10 rounds.
“Kailangan lang makapatama ng solido si Johnriel, pero dapat talaga tapusin niya ng knock-out iyan para hindi na umabot pa sa mga judges ang pag decide ng laban,” Lirio reiterated.