world boxing

Sultan replaces Casimero, tackles Butler for interim bantamweight title in Liverpool

Roy Luarca, Lynde Salgados
Sultan replaces Casimero, tackles Butler for interim bantamweight title in Liverpool

IN JEOPARDY. John Riel may end up losing his WBO bantamweight title.

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John Riel Casimero violates weight cut guidelines by using the sauna in the lead-up to his title fight against Paul Butler for the WBO bantamweight belt

Forget about John Riel Casimero’s WBO bantamweight title defense against Paul Butler on Friday, April 22 (Saturday, April 23, Manila time) at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England.

Casimero has been replaced by fellow Filipino Jonas Sultan, who will tangle with the Briton for the WBO interim bantamweight belt instead.

The WBO approved the Sultan-Butler bout after the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) did not allow Casimero to fight following a violation of its medical guidelines.

Casimero was found to have used the sauna, which is strictly prohibited by the BBBoC when the fight is in close proximity.

“Wherefore, considering the preceding request, the WBO World Championship Committee hereby grants sanction approval for the subject matter bout between Paul Butler and first available world bantamweight contender Jonas Sultan to be held on Friday, April 22, 2022, at the Echo Arena [M&S Bank Arena] in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom,” stated the WBO. “The interim bantamweight championship bout Butler/Sultan is sanctioned subject to WBO regulations of world championship contests.”

Not only did Casimero yield his spot to Sultan, the standby replacement, he also faces the prospect of losing the 118-pound crown outright.

That is, because he has been issued a show cause order by the WBO to prove within 48 hours why he shouldn’t be stripped of the crown he barely kept after he was unable to make it to the official weigh-in of his supposed title defense against Butler in Dubai last December 11.

The Casimero camp cited a bout with viral gastritis as the reason for his non-appearance then.

If the WBO finds Casimero’s explanation unacceptable this time, Sultan-Butler will be elevated to a regular title fight.

Sultan, the WBO intercontinental bantamweight champion, is already in the United Kingdom since last week as a replacement if either Casimero or Butler does not make weight or an unforeseen situation arises.

Other than the sauna visit, the BBBoC also took into consideration Casimero’s drastic weight loss, shedding 10 pounds within three days of his arrival in the UK.

Informed of the development, Butler took a potshot at Casimero via social media.

“Well that little dickhead Casimero has gone and done it again ain’t he,” tweeted Butler.

Although the sauna prohibition does not exist in the official rules and regulations of the BBBoC, it is reportedly stipulated on a sheet provided to the boxer’s camp upon arrival in the UK.

The 31-year-old Sultan, who hails from Tampilisan, Zamboanga Del Norte, stunned erstwhile unbeaten Puerto Rican Carlos Caraballo last October 30 at the Madison Square Garden in New York to improve his record to 18-5 with 11 knockouts and climb to No. 4 in the WBO rankings.

The 33-year-old Butler is a former IBF bantamweight champion and totes a 33-2 record with 15 knockouts.

‘He deserves it’

Casimero’s misfortunes drew contrasting public opinion.

“What had been happening to him being denied twice is very unusual. And they can’t blame us (loyal fans) for suspecting that they’re just desperately trying to avoid our hometown hero,” a disappointed Jonas Juntilla,  Casimero’s neighbor in Ormoc City, told Rappler.

But Cagayan de Oro’s on-call boxing trainer Jay Buot believes that Casimero’s flamboyant antics had something to do with his recent troubles.

“He’s a loose cannon and he probably deserves it,” Buot said.

As Casimero suffers, Sultan benefits.

Sultan’s resume includes a decision win over Casimero in 2017 and a defeat in his only world title chance in 2018, via a unanimous decision shortfall at the hands of compatriot Jerwin Ancajas for the IBF junior bantamweight belt.

Having the opportunity to face Butler could be a pure luck for Sultan.

Boxing journalist Ryan Songalia noted that Sultan “was at the right place at the right time” when misfortune hit Casimero anew.

Sultan had been in the United Kingdom for a week, hoping to fight in the undercard of the aborted Casimero-Butler tussle at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. – Rappler.com