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John Riel Casimero out of fight with Paul Butler, may be stripped of WBO bantamweight title

Joseph Agbeko is in to replace John Riel Casimero, and Paul Butler says he’ll only fight if it’s for the belt.

John Riel Casimero is out of his Saturday fight with Paul Butler
John Riel Casimero is out of his Saturday fight with Paul Butler
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

John Riel Casimero is out of his scheduled WBO bantamweight title defense on Saturday in Dubai, as he did not make it to today’s weigh-in and has been replaced by veteran Joseph Agbeko. Casimero was a -3000 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook prior to the withdrawal.

Casimero (31-4, 21 KO) may be stripped of his title, but the WBO have not released a statement on that at this time. Probellum’s statement about the issue did not go into any specifics, but Casimero’s cutman posted on social media that the fighter is suffering “viral gastritis” and was rushed to the hospital.

Butler (33-2, 15 KO) is the WBO mandatory challenger, and obviously would like for his new fight with the 41-year-old Agbeko (38-5, 28 KO) to be sanctioned for the belt. Agbeko, a former titleholder, has won nine straight fights since a 2013 loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux, but those wins have all come against marginal opposition in Ghana.

“Watching (Casimero) in and around the hotel, he didn’t look in a great place trying to make weight,” Butler told iFL TV. “Every time I’d walk past the treadmills to go outside to just chill at the pool, he was on them. He was outside Wednesday in the sun, just shadowboxing with his sweatsuit on, a belt around him. You could see he was struggling, but he’s had eight, nine weeks to get to this point.”

Butler added that he won’t fight if it’s not for a world title, noting that he’s the No. 1 ranked contender and Agbeko is No. 2.

The rest of the card — which will air on AXS in the United States — is still on, including Sunny Edwards defending his IBF flyweight title against mandatory challenger Jayson Mama, and Donnie Nietes taking on Norbelto Jimenez, plus a return for Jono Carroll and the pro return of Olympic gold medalist Bakhodir Jalolov.