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John Riel Casimero still wants Naoya Inoue, but won’t look past Duke Micah on Sept. 26

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Casimero defends the WBO bantamweight title against the unbeaten Micah next month.

Boxing in Birmingham Photo by Morgan Harlow/Getty Images

WBO bantamweight titleholder John Riel Casimero is set to defend his belt on Showtime’s Sept. 26 pay-per-view as part of a packed undercard, where he’ll face Duke Micah.

The two fighters spoke about the matchup today via media conference call.

“This is a great fight for me to defend my title. I know I’m facing a good undefeated fighter, but I will do everything I can to have my hand raised on fight night,” Casimero said.

Casimero (29-4, 20 KO) won the WBO belt from Zolani Tete in Nov. 2019, a bit of an upset at the time, with Casimero stopping Tete in the third round. The win made Casimero a three-division titleholder, having previously won belts at 108 and 112.

The 31-year-old Filipino also still has his sights set on a big unification with Naoya Inoue, the WBA/IBF titleholder. That fight was supposed to happen in April, but was canceled due to coronavirus and travel issues.

“If I get through this fight, I’m still hoping to fight for a bantamweight unification fight. That’s my dream,” he said. “Despite the Inoue fight being cancelled, I’m still very hungry. I’m excited to fight on this card and I look forward to all the big fights that are out there. First I have to get by Micah.”

Micah (24-0, 19 KO) is unbeaten but pretty untested, a 28-year-old Ghanaian who fought a couple of times in the UK in 2016 and has had his last four bouts in the United States, from 2017 until December of last year. This is obviously a huge opportunity for him to get right into the mix at 118 pounds.

“I’m coming there to win. This is my dream. This is what I’ve set my mind on since my childhood,” he said. “I’ve always dreamed to be a world champion and I’m so thankful to be taking on Casimero, one of the best boxers from the Philippines, because I know he’s a very good opponent. That’s what I want and what the fans want to see, so we have to make it exciting.

Micah is fully aware that he’s a big underdog, but the 2012 Olympian says he’s fully prepared and has trained his entire life for this moment.

“The people who think I don’t have a chance are not in my shoes. I know he’s a good boxer but this is what I’ve been doing since my childhood,” he said. “Whatever anybody else thinks, I’m the one in the ring, so nobody else’s thoughts really matter. I know this won’t be an easy fight for me, but it’s what I’ve always wanted.

“I was so happy when I got the call for this fight, it’s like a dream. I’m fighting somebody who is a world champion, so I have to be happy. You have to fight the best to be the best. That’s why I’m so excited for this opportunity.”