Dan Rafael is reporting that the bantamweight WBO title bout between John Riel Casimero and challenger Guillermo Rigondeaux will officially take place on August 14 in Carson, California. Joining this excellent matchup are two additional bantamweight fights with several of the division’s top contenders.
Casimero (30-4, 21 KO) was all set for a historic title unification with fellow Pinoy and WBC champion Nonito Donaire, before ill-advised and misogynistic comments directed at Donaire’s wife, manager, and trainer, Rachel Donaire, compelled Nonito to call it off. So now Casimero is back where he started before that fiasco, scheduled to take on the slippery Rigondeaux in what is surely a less lucrative fight for him.
Rigondeaux (or ‘Rigondiaux,’ as BoxRec would have me believe) had apparently voluntarily stepped aside to allow the all-Filipino unification to take place, so thankfully he’s back in without much fuss. Rigondeaux (20-1, 13 KO) has fought sparingly in the past few years since his only loss to Vasyl Lomachenko in 2017, which could spell trouble, but equally likely is exactly what his body needed after prolonged amateur career. This title challenge will be his first fight in about a year-and-a-half, after having won a split decision victory over Liborio Solis in February of 2020.
First on the card is a ten-rounder between Olympian and former WBA bantamweight title-holder Rau’shee Warren (18-3, 4 KO) and Damien Vazquez (16-2-1, 8 KO). Warren’s last fight of note came against Nordine Ouballi in January 2019, in which he came up short challenging for the vacant WBC championship. He holds a victory over McJoe Arroyo, and went 1-1 against Juan Carlos Payano. He fought once in 2020 and again in 2021 in stay-busy appearances.
Damien Vazquez will be a sizeable underdog against Warren, although he is the younger man by ten years. He lost to Juan Carlos Payano in March of 2019, and was stopped by WBC champion Brandon Figueroa on the undercard of the Charlo’s doubleheader PPV in September, 2020.
The co-main event is an intriguing contest between former IBF bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-2, 12 KO) and rising contender Gary Antonio Russell (18-0, 12 KO). Rodriguez’ most recent fight saw him on the wrong end of a frankly despicable robbery against Reymart Gaballo. To put it in context, judge David Sutherland turned in a reasonable score of 118-110 in favour of Rodriguez, while Don Trella and John McKaie had what could most generously be described as a “bad night” in which they scored 116-112 and 115-113 in favour of Gaballo. It was so bad, in fact, that the WBC ordered an immediate rematch. Credit to Rodriguez for instead taking on what is a stiffer challenge in Russell.
Rodriguez’ second to last fight saw him stopped by the fearsome Naoya Inoue in what was his first professional loss. This is a critically important outing for Rodriguez, as a third loss in a row would severely damage his opportunity to challenge for a bantamweight title in the near future.
For Gary Antonio Russel, this is his chance to show that he’s a world class talent in the same vein as his older brother. Russell did pick up a technical decision win over Juan Carlos Payano in December, but the fight ended because of a head-butt, and I think it’s safe to say Payano’s best days were behind him. Regardless, he appeared sharp in that victory, and this should be an evenly contested fight.