MANILA, Philippines – Jab, hook, uppercut, then boom.
This sequence is just one of the combinations being worked out by World Boxing Organization bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero and trainer Nonoy Neri as they continue their preparations for the stalled unification showdown with World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation king Naoya “Monster” Inoue in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The pay-per-view bout originally set April 25 at Mandalay Bay Events Center will be rescheduled, depending on when business will resume in the state hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Casimero, who has been in the United States since February when he started training in Miami, Florida, and has been stuck in Las Vegas since March 15, remains hopeful the career-defining fight with Inoue will happen within the next 3 months.
While the decision hangs up to May 1 (May 2, Philippine time), all Casimero and Neri can do is stay safe and keep in shape in the spacious four-bedroom house provided by MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions president Sean Gibbons, a master motivator.
A Las Vegas resident, Gibbons makes it a point to visit Casimero daily, bringing in food and other supplies, joining some training sessions, and cheering up the three-division world champion.
Gibbons also utters words of encouragement while Casimero bangs the heavy bag or does the mitts with Neri.
“While the monster is sleeping, we’re working,” Gibbons said in one of his posts, referring to the time difference between Las Vegas and Japan, where Inoue has been holed up training since flights to and from the United States were restricted.
Whenever Casimero threw rapid combos or solid blows to the body-shielded Neri, Gibbons can be heard saying one-liners.
“Look at the champ,” “Money shot,” “Goodbye monster,” to cite a few.
No wonder, Casimero, despite missing his family back home, remains upbeat. His brother, Jayson, assistant trainer Ting Ariosa and Neri make it a point to adjust to his mood swings, especially when he feels lonely.
After workouts, they soothe their muscles in the jacuzzi near the swimming pool before dinner, which is usually hearty and healthy, with occasional ice cream treats, considering Neri’s culinary skills.
For relaxation, it’s either Netflix, usually horror movies, or karaoke time for Team Casimero.
Their monster hunting mission has been aborted, but they are on standby. Gibbons is certain Casimero-Inoue will happen. – Rappler.com
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