By Nick Giongco
John Riel Casimero isn’t awed by fellow bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue, the Japanese puncher everyone calls ‘The Monster’.
“I am the real monster,” Casimero told the Manila Bulletin on Wednesday.
Casimero (29-4 with 20 KOs) and Inoue (19-0 with 16 KOs) are facing off on April 25 in Las Vegas with the Filipino’s World Boxing Organization crown on the line as well as Inoue’s World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation jewels also at stake.
Not only is Casimero intimidated by Inoue.
The Leyte-born hitter believes South African Zolani Tete, whom he dismantled in just three rounds to snatch the WBO 118-lb diadem last year in England, is superior to Inoue.
“Mas mahirap kalaban si Tete. Mas mataas, 5-9, at mahirap tamaan,” he said.
Against Casimero, Tete proved to be an easy target.
A right to the temple had Tete crumbling and another short right to the cheek just before hitting the floor sent him on his knees badly hurt.
Even though he was able to get up, his legs were rubbery and after suffering another knockdown and getting up, a barrage of heavy blows forced the referee to step in.
Tete’s corner didn’t protest the stoppage.
Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. is promoting the April showdown and to spice up the bantam brawl, a press conference is going to be held soon in Tokyo where the 5-4 Casimero and 5-5 Inoue are going to size each other up.
From Tokyo, Casimero will fly to the US to start training camp proper.
“Hindi naman sa minamaliit ko si Inoue, magaling din naman sya pero marami akong nakita sa laban nya kay (Nonito) Donaire,” said Casimero, who is one of only four Filipino fighter to win at least three world titles in as many weight classes.
Inoue was pushed to the limit by Donaire in their slugfest last year, the first time the Japanese walked the tightrope in his stellar career.
“Pero hindi ako mag-kumpyansa kay Inoue,” he added.