Former International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight (108 pounds) champion Jhonriel Casimero expects to do a whole lot of chasing when he takes on Thai speedster Amnat Ruenroeng in Bangkok on June 27 for the IBF’s flyweight (112 pounds) diadem. The Filipino challenger nonetheless believes that he is up to the task.
Ruenroeng, a late bloomer at 35, certified his status as a fistic star in his native Thailand in March, after he handed the heavily hyped, albeit sugar-coated Zou Shiming his first defeat by way of a unanimous 12-round decision. Ruenroeng bucked a debatable second-round knockdown to outwork and outclass former two-time Olympic gold medalist Shiming. The Thai dominated with a pesky jab coupled by solid right hands and well-timed left hooks on the inside. When Shiming tried to instigate a brawl, Ruenroeng was quick to tie up the Chinese fighter and cut off his rhythm.
The win over Shiming was Ruenroeng’s fourth successful defense of the IBF flyweight crown which he won over Filipino slugger Rocky Fuentes in January 2014. The Thai champ has not scored a knockout since stopping Japanese journeyman Takuro Habu in four rounds in August 2013, but what makes him a tough nut to crack is his cerebral boxing approach.
Casimero, ten years younger at 25, is coming in as the mandatory challenger and is definitely more seasoned as a pro compared to Shiming. He held the IBF light flyweight belt for almost two years before he was stripped of it for failing to make the weight in his May 2014 defense against Colombian Mauricio Fuentes. Despite being forced to wear bigger gloves as a penalty, Casimero demolished Fuentes in one round.
Casimero, 21-2 with 13 knockouts, has won his last seven fights, five by knockouts, and is reporting for battle with a lot of confidence against Ruenroeng. He is unfazed by the Thai’s champ’s reputation as a fleet-footed boxer and discloses that he has concocted the perfect strategy. “Madali lang yun (the style of Ruenroeng),” he told this writer. “May bagong style ako na inihahanda para sa kanya. Pero hindi ko pa pwede sabihin. Secret muna.”
Casimero is actually making his second attempt at the flyweight crown. In 2011, while reigning as the interim World Boxing Organization (WBO) light flyweight champ, he made a sudden leap to the flyweight division and was stopped in five rounds by then IBF ruler Moruthi “Babyface” Mthalane of South Africa. For the fight with Ruenroeng, Casimero made sure he got the right seasoning in the 112-pound class. Last December, he earned the right to meet Ruenroeng after he toppled Mexican Armando “Cobra” Santos in two rounds of a title elimination bout.
“Ang masasabi ko lang kay Ruenroeng, sa laban naming hindi ko hahayaan na bigyan siya ng pagkakataon na talunin ako,” quipped Casimero. “Surprise na lang, makikita ninyo kung paano ko siya pababagsakin.”
It will not come easy, but Casimero arguably has the firepower to substantiate his claim.
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For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@ yahoo.com.