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Watson’s musings: Casimero topples Tete as Matchroom’s mystifying Monaco show returns

It was a weekend of bits and pieces either side of the pond as the “Clash on the Dunes” countdown begins.

Boxing in Birmingham Photo by Morgan Harlow/Getty Images
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has been a contributor at Bad Left Hook since 2018.

Two titles changed hands during Frank Warren’s “Midlands Mayhem” show, a couple of former featherweight titlists make super-featherweight statements and Matchroom serve the hors d ‘oeuvres in a Monte Carlo casino before “AJ” rolls the dice in the desert.

Casimero calls out the “Monster” after toppling Tete in three

“All my opponents are good fighters, but me, I’m strong, man!” exclaimed a jubilant John Riel Casemiro having snatched the WBO bantamweight strap from a bamboozled Zolani Tete.

The Filipino had just become a three-weight world champion inside Arena Birmingham, utilising some intelligent footwork to unleash a right hand to the temple of the South African.

Feinting with lefts against the powerful southpaw, “Quadro Alas” planted his lead left foot to the outside of Tete’s right allowing him to glide into the pocket and deliver two punches that would begin the end of the fight.

It’s the classic tactic when negating the southpaw stance, which Casimero perfected en route to stopping the 31-year-old for just the second time in his career. Without really offering much in the opening two rounds, the blonde-haired bantamweight sparked into life in an eventful third, as Steve Gray waved off the contest (arguably a knockdown too late).

“Give me Inoue!” Casimero petitioned in the aftermath of the contest. “C’mon Inoue, Monster, come with me!”

Casimero may have re-announced himself onto the world scene this Saturday but be careful what you wish for, mate.

Besputin edges out Butaev amid chandeliers and champagne

Under the glistening lights of the Casino de Monte Carlo chandeliers, Alexander Besputin won a slightly less glamorous trinket in the WBA “world” welterweight title having outpointed countryman Radzhab Butaev by three scores of 116-112.

Add to that the vacant Eurasian Boxing Parliament welterweight strap and the Russian southpaw left with enough gold to trade-in for a half-pint of Kronenbourg in the casino bar afterwards.

From the opening bell, Besputin shuffled clockwise around the ring canvas like an adrenaline-fuelled crab, pinching and poking at the stationary target of Butaev. The work-rate, punch output and accuracy of the southpaw frustrated “The Python” throughout the 36 minutes, with a headbutt in the tenth causing the biggest issue for the eventual winner to negate, with blood pouring from the bridge of his nose.

There were pockets of fire in this contest that kept you hooked, with eyes becoming distracted by the bizarre collection of ringside guests, suited and booted for Matchroom’s fourth annual trip to the Principality.

I had Besputin a clear winner at 117-111. Butaev never really found the recipe to trouble Besputin with tempers close to boiling over after the final bell, emphasising his frustrations.

“I was very confident that I was winning the fight, but I did get tired late on,” said Besputin. “We have a big history between us; I showed that I’m ready for the big arena. I’d like to unify titles, Terence Crawford is in the division, we’ll see what’s next.”

Not exactly a direct call-out of “Bud”, but the Russian has had a taste of professional gold, and he likes it!

Anthony Cacace wins ugly becoming British champion

Back in Birmingham, it was another case of beware of the Dog, as Anthony Cacace defeated Sam Bowen to secure the British super- featherweight title.

Having dropped a controversial points loss to Martin J Ward for the Lonsdale belt in 2017, “The Apache” finally got his hands on the admired strap winning the fight 115-113, 115-113, 112-115 on the scorecards after offering the more tactical, crisp, astute work against the dogged inside work of the former champion.

Bravery was shown by both in some highly entertaining middle rounds, with Bowen reluctant to hand his title to the challenger without digging deep.

That 112-115 card raised eyebrows ringside. The owner – Terry O’Connor – had seen last weekend’s Smith–Ryder fight as a 117-111 win for “Mundo”, with two stinkers on back-to-back weekends asking questions of the judges’ credentials.

O’Connor was, of course, a former fighter between the years of 1976–83 amassing a record of 20–20. Many will feel that it’s a shame this record didn’t translate to a glasses prescription.

Valdez and Frampton both win, setting their sights on different paths at 130 pounds

Top Rankers Oscar Valdez and Carl Frampton enjoyed 130-pound wins in Las Vegas as they plot their different routes to world honours at super-featherweight.

It wasn’t all fun and games for the pair of former featherweight titlists, overcoming a knockdown and a suspected fractures hand, respectively, in their two bouts.

“I feel like I’ve probably refractured it,” Frampton told the media post-fight, following a unanimous decision buffered by two knockdowns. “I refractured it twice in the camp, but I knew a lot of people were coming here to support me. There was absolutely no way I wasn’t fighting”.

Bob Arum looks to be pointing “The Jackal” in the direction of Jamel Herring in the first half of 2020, with the WBO champion left to ponder a contest in Belfast or New York. “This is the first time I’ve met Jamel,” Frampton continued. “My impression of him was that he’s a nice guy and he has lived up to that. I know he’s a champ.”

One suspects the Northern Irishman is too long in the tooth to stoke any fabricated fires at this stage of his career.

Valdez looks to be heading the way of Miguel Berchelt and the WBC following escaping an eventful weekend at the Cosmo. Adam Lopez stepped in to face “Fierro” on short notice following original opponent Andres Gutierrez breaking the scales coming 11 pounds over the limit.

“We’re throwing him out of the hotel!” a livid Bob Arum exclaimed following the weigh-in, with the 87-year-old visibly riled seeing the needle swing north to 141 pounds.

Lopez was due to fight on the undercard but stepped up and stepped into the main event. A counter right hook and uppercut sent Valdez to the canvas in the second round giving Arum his second scare of the weekend, only to see Valdez rally well in the following rounds stopping the 23-year-old in the seventh.

Ruiz–Joshua fight week starts as both fighters’ hunger is questioned

” I already won, I accomplished my dreams and what I wanted to do in life,” Andy Ruiz Jr. told Sky Sports cameras just days before his rematch with Anthony Joshua.

Five months after the “Destroyer” shocked the world inside Madison Square Garden, thoughts are turning to Saturday’s first bell as the heavyweight puzzle is put on hold.

What’s left for Ruiz to achieve? Does the hunger burn for the 31-year-old to repeat June’s upset, or has complacency set in now that the champion fighting under the Mexican flag has fulfilled his dreams?

“It’s tough to get out of bed to do roadwork at 5 am when you’ve been sleeping in silk pyjamas,” was the infamous quote from Marvin Hagler, but is it even tougher to do the rounds in sparring when you’ve got Jimmy Kimmel at 11 pm and a Snickers pitch the next morning?

Joshua seems as focused as ever, but the little voices inside his head will be warning him that Andy Ruiz might be his bogeyman. Every fighter has one, but most champions never find them!

“Clash on the Dunes”, “Rowdy in Saudi”, “Duking in the Desert”, “Arabia-mania”, “Hysteria in Diriyah” or “The Riyadh Rematch” – whatever you’ll be calling, you’ll be watching it.

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