By Nick Giongco
Cuban coach Pedro Roque, whose resume is adorned with countless Olympic gold medals, has joined the camp of Filipino world bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero.
Holed out in Miami for almost four weeks now, Casimero hosted an open workout Thursday and worked with Roque on the mitts as strength coach Memo Heredia intently watched.
With eight weeks remaining before clashing with Japanese Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue for three bantamweight title belts on the line in Las Vegas, Casimero’s team is stepping up its preparation.
Inoue is staking his World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation straps while Casimero is bringing his World Boxing Organization crown in the scheduled 12-rounder at Mandalay Bay.
Roque, who defected to the US in 2010, is revered by Cuba’s recent champions, including three-time Olympic heavyweight champion Felix Savon.
On March 15, Casimero will relocate to Las Vegas where he will be pushed further not just by Heredia but his entire training team.
Heredia, famous for his work with Juan Manuel Marquez in the fourth fight with Manny Pacquiao, is applying everything to make sure Casimero reaches optimum level.
Like Casimero (29-4 with 20 KOs) in ever-sunny Florida, Inoue (19-0 with16 KOs) is likewise in the thick of his preparations in Yokohama, Japan.
The undefeated Inoue had actually kickstarted his buildup slightly ahead of his Filipino foe, probably aware the danger that lies ahead.
Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank, which has Inoue under contract, is staging the much-awaited duel of known hard-hitters.