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John Riel Casimero proves the appeal of fighting Naoya Inoue

John Riel Casimero
Action Images/Reuters/Peter Cziborra
A classy finish John Riel Casimero. Andy Whittle rounds up the Birmingham bill

HE had landed precious little of any real note in two fairly quiet opening rounds, and was exhorted by his corner prior to the commencement of the third to jab. Then John Riel Casimero of the Philippines, in against popular South African Zolani Tete, duly upped the pace and twice floored the much taller WBO bantamweight champion to pull off a stunning win at Arena Birmingham.

Enjoying a string of recent inside the distance victories and in against the southpaw champion who hadn’t boxed in over a year, the challenger and interim champion made the breakthrough midway through the third session. A pair of short, sharp rights, the first to the temple and second to the side of the head, sent Tete sprawling in centre ring.

Allowed to continue on rising but still seemingly feeling the effects, Tete was down and counted again 20 seconds later, having copped one to the top of the head. It was all over with 46 seconds of the round remaining when one further left upstairs brought the intervention of referee Steve Gray.

It was a fantastic last half a minute from Casimero, who has now won world titles at three weights. A clash with Japan’s Naoya Inoue would doubtless prove excellent fare.

John Riel Casimero vs Zolani Tete
Casimero celebrates after defeating Tete Action Images/Reuters/Peter Cziborra

The British and Commonwealth welterweight title bout between Welshman Chris Jenkins and Middleton’s Liam Taylor was shaping up to be a more than viable, albeit late, contender for Fight of the Year before an accidental clash of heads with just four seconds of the fourth round remaining left Jenkins with a nasty gash to the left eyebrow.

Had the bout run just four seconds longer and gone to the cards Taylor may well have been crowned champion – he had floored Chris in the opening moments of the second, a round which duly turned into a real Rocky-style barnstormer and was doubtless the best I’ve seen this year. As it was, with an end to hostilities coming when it did, the bout, fantastic while it lasted, was deemed a technical draw.

Referee was Saudi Arabia-bound Steve Gray.

Ibstock’s British super-featherweight champion Sam Bowen lost his title via split decision to Belfast challenger Anthony Cacace at the conclusion of an oft-scruffy but hard, hard fight, many of the rounds proving close in a contest marred by too many interruptions and too much bashing of heads.

Sam, who had a point docked for use of the head in the fifth, finished with damage by his right eye and with his left eye swollen and almost closed. Cacace, who also picked up his share of warnings along the way, finished with a sizeable swelling to the forehead.

Judge Terry O’Connor scored 115-112 to Bowen at the finish while Howard Foster and Steve Gray both had it 115-113 for the man from Northern Ireland.

The British super-middleweight title was up for grabs in the last bout of the night, a clash refereed by Howard Foster, between New Maldon’s Lerrone Richards and Halesowen’s similarly unbeaten Lennox Clarke.

It was ultimately won by the former by way of a split decision victory with judges Gray and O’Connor scoring 117-112 and 116-113 respectively while Marcus McDonnell had it 115-13 for Lennox.

It really was a case of what you liked: the busier, pressing style employed throughout by Clarke or the more economical, measured approach employed by Richards, who having landed the cleaner shots was booed by the locals as he climbed the corner post to celebrate at the finish – those same fans being silenced by the announcing of the scores moments later.

Liverpool’s Sam Maxwell put in a dominant performance, much more so than expected by many, on his way to a seventh-round stoppage of unbeaten Connor Parker. The Derbyshire man never really seemed to settle or pick up the pace and was halted under fire by referee Foster with 15 seconds of the seventh still to run.

The vacant super-welterweight version of the title was up for grabs when Ilford’s Hamzah Sheeraz went in against local favourite Ryan Kelly and a nip-and-tuck contest ensued. But somewhat unexpectedly, bearing in mind nature of what had gone before, the taller visitor dropped Ryan towards the end of the sixth and, with Hamzah relentless on the resumption, Mr McDonnell timed his intervention perfectly, jumping in with two seconds of the round remaining as Kelly’s knees dipped once more.

Award for the noisiest supporters of the night went to the several hundred Stokies there to watch Nathan Heaney calling the shots from the off against Nicaraguan Nelson Altamirano who, under constant and increasing pressure, was rescued by referee McDonnell 58 seconds from the end of the fifth and penultimate round.

There was victory too for another Stoke stylist, super-bantam Shabaz Masoud dominating en route to a 60-54 win over Romanian Stefan Nicolae, whose head was snapped back by a flashing left early in the third. Mr McDonnell refereed.

Another six which didn’t go the distance, halted after 1-47 of the second by Mr Foster saw Maidstone’s Dennis McCann bank win number five, Bulgarian Stefan Slavchev taking too many head shots with nothing coming back by way of reply.

There was little cheer for the opponents in a trio of fours.

None of Hyde’s Dale Arrowsmith, Hull’s Zygimantas Butkevicius (cut above the left eye late) nor local lad Daryl Pearce won a round in respective bouts against unbeaten novices George Davey of York, Exhall’s River Wilson-Bent and Northampton’s polished Eithan James. Howard Foster refereed the first two and Marcus McDonnell the last.

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