Patience is a virtue.
I say amen to that, especially in boxing when patience is combined with proper timing and execution and application of power. It always delivers.
And once again, it delivered the win for Johnriel Casimero and on the road as he stopped the highly touted Zolani Tete in the third round to become the new full fledged WBO world bantamweight champion before a shocked pro Tete crowd at the Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, UK Saturday night.
Casimero just kept his cool and poise as the tall and lanky South African carefully measured him and proceeded to keep him at the end of his long jabs and straights in the first two rounds of their scheduled 12 round title main event bout in Tete’s adopted second home. The Filipino in fact barely made some offensive moves of his own, electing to concentrate on defense and studying his South African opponent who was also known for packing power in his punches.
Tete, though wary also of Casimero’s vaunted punching power and aware that keeping him at bay was key to neutralizing the Filipino and his fight plan, however got so emboldened by the tepid showing of his opponent that he thought he had the fight under control.
Hence, when the third round bell rang, Tete waa looking to even up the pressure and really take the fight to the Filipino. That proved to be his undoing.
Like a possum poised for a lethal strike at the first fatal mistake of an ever striking cobra, Casimero took full advantage of the opportunity and opening Tete presented as the South African pressed the action.
Boom! Casimero connected with the first real powerful punch he had thrown thus far, a ponderous right hook that caught Tete by surprise and sent him crashing to the canvas.
Tete rose up but his legs were unsteady and he never fully recovered.
Casimero went for the kill and landed a left hook high the head of the five inches taller Tete that sent him face first into the ropes where after the hapless South African took two more punches, referee Steve Gray decided he had seen enough and waved the fight off.
The Filipino was officially declared winner by technical knockout as the dejected Tete could only bow his head in acceptance of his defeat, his first after a 12 bout winning streak dating back to 2012 and his first knockout loss since his fight with fellow South African Moruti Mthalane earlier in his career.
It was Casimero’s fifth straight win, all via the short route since coming back late last year after his career went into limbo as he was forced for the second time to relinquish his world title due to weight problems.
He had previously won the IBF light flyweight title by stopping Luis Lazarte in Mar de Plata, Argentina in 2012 in a bout infamous for fan riot and attack on the Filipino corner who were only saved by the timely intervention of the police.
After making four successful title defenses, mostly on the road, including against Mexican then future world champion Pedro Guevara in Mexico, Casimero had to surrender the belt at the weight scales in his last defense held in the Philippines.
Casimero then wrested the WBC flyweight crown from the head of the very difficult Amnat Ruenroeng after patiently enduring the Thai’s fouling tactics and proceeding to knock him out in the fourth round in Beijing in 2016. The two had previously met in Bangkok where Amnat fouled his way to a points victory that so scandalized the WBC that it ordered the immediate rematch in a neutral country.
Casimero made one successful defense in his first fight in the UK stopping his future successor Charlie Edwards in the tenth round. But again, he had to vacate his throne due weight issues.
He then lost to fellow Pinoy Jonas Sultan in 2017 in an IBF super flyweight title eliminator where he appeared listless and sluggish. And his career seemed to go nowhere.
But his camp never gave up on him and with Casimero rediscovering his virtues of patience and perseverance, he went on to rededicate himself to boxing as a new born star in the loaded bantamweight division.
As in his previous major fights and victories, many did not give Casimero a big chance at winning over Tete but he proved them wrong each time The victory is just the latest in a long string of on the road wins for Casimero who has bolstered his reputation as a fierce road warrior not afraid of fighting anyone in his own backyard.
Overall, he is now 29-4-0 with 20 of his wins coming by knockout.
He has now set his eyes on the division’s biggest star– Naoya Inoue.
That bears watching if his virtue of patience and hard work will help pull him through—again.