Johnriel Casimero took the World Boxing Organization (WBO) interim world bantamweight belt via 12th round technical knockout win over Mexican Ricardo Espinoza Franco on Sunday at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Casimero came out lethargic in the opening round but regained his rhythm in the fourth round, peppering the 21-year-old Franco (23-3 win-loss record with 20 knockouts) with crisp combinations.
The Ormoc City native floored Franco with a solid right hook at the end of round six. The blow hurt Franco badly that the Mexican resorted to hugging Casimero to stop further punishment in later rounds.
Casimero’s vicious combo in the 12th prompted American referee Rudy Barragan to conduct a mandatory eight count but Franco refused to surrender.
The Filipino sustained the pummeling until the referee halted the bout in the waning seconds to save the Mexican from severe injuries.
“I just proved that there is still a lot of power left in me,” Casimero told The Manila Times in Filipino via overseas call. “My opponent is durable and he fought hard, so I just let him move in first before I hit him.”
It was a great comeback for Casimero who lost by unanimous decision to compatriot Jonas Sultan in Cebu on September 16, 2017.
The victory improved Casimero’s record to 27-4 with 18 knockouts.
Casimero was a former International Boxing Federation light flyweight and flyweight world champion.
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