Casimero Defeats Rigondeaux By Split Decision; Retains WBO Title

John Riel Casimero defeats Guillermo Rigondeaux in a disappointing bout

WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero
John Riel Casimero

John Riel Casimero defeats Guillermo Rigondeaux in a disappointing bout

On paper, an intriguing fight takes place at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California as John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21 KOs) makes the second defense the WBO world bantamweight title against former world unified WBA ‘super’/WBO world super bantamweight champ Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-2, 13 KOs).

Without much recognition, Casimero has been one of the best smaller-weight fighters in the sport over the last decade. Previously a world champion at 108 and 112 pounds, the 32-year-old from Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines shocked the boxing world when he stopped Zolani Tete to win the WBO bantamweight title in November 2019. After successfully defending the title with a dominant three-round TKO win over Duke Micah in September of 2020, the power punching, the trash-talking defending champ has predicted he will stop Rigondeaux in three rounds.

Rigondeaux has been at the top of the 122 pound division for the past decade. The highlight of his career was when he thoroughly outboxed Nonito Donaire to unify the WBA ‘super’ and WBO world junior featherweight titles in April of 2013.

The former champ has his share of detractors. His style is deemed safety-first and boring. As a result, he was unable to land the biggest money-making fights in and around his division. In December of 2017, the man nicknamed “Rigo” moved up to 130 pounds to face then WBO world 130 pound champion, Vasyl Lomachenko. It was an embarrassing performance as the Cuban quit on his stool after the sixth round. As a result, he added more fuel to his distractors.

After three comeback wins from 2019-2020, he returns to the limelight as he moves down in weight face Casimero. Even at age 40, the veteran is still one of the most skilled fighters in the sport. Does he still have enough gas in the tank to pull off one last great performance?


What we have is a classic fight of the aggressive and hard-punching champion versus a challenger who is a boxing stylist. In his customary fashion, Casimero opened the fight charging Rigondeaux looking to land bombs. For his part, the Cuban settled down and did a good job of countering and taking potshots in the second.

Then from round three on, Rigo did what Rigo does, and that’s move and box. The crowd did plenty of booing, but does that bother the former junior featherweight champ? Absolutely not! This became the ebb and flow for the rest of the fight, much to the displeasure of the fans in attendance.


As the rounds went along, the bout became difficult to score. Casimero was marching forward but did not land any significantly hard shots. Rigondeaux displayed terrific defense and made Casimero miss quite often. However, the name of the game is to make your opponent miss, then make him pay. Was Rigondeaux doing enough offensively to sway the judges?

Casimero fought with more passion. One would think that in the championship rounds, the challenger would bite down and show some bottle. However, he was just too defensive and gave off the impression that he was content going the distance.

In the end, Casimero won by split decision (115-113, 112-116, 117-111) despite landing only 47 punches during the fight! Guillermo Rigondeaux landed only 44 total punches himself. With all the hype going in, neither man did much of anything, and this was a disappointment on all levels. Afterward, Casimero said he plans to fight WBC world bantamweight Nonito Donaire, then wants a showdown against unified IBF/WBA ‘super’ world 118 pound champion Naoya Inoue.

By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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Michael is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a writer/contributor for