Scribes fete Pinoy boxers Casimero, Magsayo

John Riel Casimero (Photo courtesy of Sean Gibbons)

Fighting overseas, reigning World Boxing Organization bantamweight king John Riel Casimero was the toast of local sports for the month of August, with promising unbeaten featherweight Mark ‘Magnifico’ Magsayo not too far behind.  

Nicknamed ‘Cuadro Alas,’ Casimero hogged the spotlight last Aug. 15 (Aug. 14 in the US), banking on his aggressiveness in fashioning a split decision win over crafty and elusive Cuban challenger Guillermo Rigondeaux at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson City, California to retain his crown. 

The Ormoc City pride was foiled in landing a knockout punch as the two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist danced away from him, connecting on counterpunches to keep the dull bout close, much to the dismay of fans who expected fireworks.

Posting his 31st win, 21 by knockout, against four losses, Casimero made a successful second defense of the title he wrested from South African Solani Tete with a third-round stoppage last Dec. 11, 2019 at the Birmingham Arena in Birmingham, England.

Rigondeaux was unapologetic of his drab boxing style in absorbing his only second loss in 22 matches.

Casimero leads the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) monthly achievers for August, joining the likes of first Philippine Olympic gold medal winner Hidilyn Diaz, and Olympiad medalists Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial, along with US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso, national record breaker pole vaulter EJ Obiena, French Open doubles girls champion Alex Eala, among other previous athletes included in the list culled by the country’s oldest media organization.

In contrast to the boring Casimero-Rigondeaux  clash, Magsayo’s  match was thrilling and action-packed as the Pinoy prizefighter bucked a fifth-round knockdown to knock out scrappy Mexican Julio Ceja in the 10th round of their scheduled 12-rounder on Aug. 22 (Aug. 21 in the US) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Also handled by MP Promotions of Sen. Manny Pacquiao like Casimero, the Boholano slugger kept his unblemished record intact in registering his 23 straight win and his 16th knockout victim, who absorbed his fifth loss against 32 wins and one draw.  

The impressive triumph also served Magsayo notice as one of the exciting fighters in the featherweight ranks.

Not to be overlooked was  pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, who  was back in vintage form in booking a new PH record of 5.91 meters in placing second behind Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Armand Duplantis of Sweden in the Paris leg of the Diamond League last Aug. 29 at the Charlety Stadium.

It was an encouraging performance for Obiena, who  reset his old mark of 5.87 meters last July 1 in another second place finish in the Irina Szwewinska Memorial meet in Bydgoszcz, Poland - a far cry from his sub-par jump of 5.70 meters to slump in 11th place in the Tokyo Olympic Games last Aug. 3.