Johnriel Casimero Interview: “I am ready for Ulises Solis anytime”
By Anson Wainwright, MaxBoxing (May 2, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Johnriel Casimero
Over the past couple of years, Johnriel Casimero, 16-2 (10), has become somewhat of a road warrior, with four of his last five bouts taking place away from home. Going behind enemy lines isn’t a problem for the globetrotting 22-year-old Filipino who’s performed in a wide array of countries including Nicaragua, Mexico, South Africa and Argentina. During that time, he’s won the WBO and IBF interim light flyweight titles. Recently, he travelled to Argentina, halfway around the world for Casimero and his handlers. They endured a hellacious journey, leaving Cebu in the Philippines on 4th February on a 10-and-a-half hour flight to Doha, Qatar. From there, they kicked off another 14 hours and 45 minutes en route to Sao Paulo, Brazil before jetting off once more for two hours and 45 minutes toward Buenos Aires, Argentina. Finally, from the Argentine capital, it took a relatively scant 55 minutes to make the fight destination, Mar Del Plata, on Monday, 6th February. The stress somewhat melted when Casimero upset grizzled former champion Luis Lazarte to win the aforementioned IBF crown but his joy turned to fear when he and several members of his team were viciously attacked in the aftermath, leaving them fearing for their lives The well-respected Sean Gibbons, matchmaker for Zanfer (who was working with Casimero for the bout and suffered two broken ribs in the riot), recounted the post-fight events, “Before the fight, I felt that it was very volatile in the arena. I actually texted a couple of friends back in the U.S. joking that, ‘If we win tonight, this place is going to riot’...So during the fight, Lazarte bit Casimero twice and I was yelling at him from the corner. Then he came into our corner in the sixth round and threatened me. This got the crowd fired up and the next round, I was hit with a bottle between rounds and two people physically tried to attack me. So after the fight, when Casimero stopped Lazarte, [Lazarte] jumped on the ropes to celebrate and the local mob did not take kindly to his celebration and began to climb on the ring and in the ring and throw chairs. It was at this point when some coward snuck up behind me and punched me in the ribs from behind. At this point, things were flying all around and people were attacking the boxer and me and Casimero's cornermen. At this point, I was hurt and could have been of no assistance and rolled out the ring and was kicked and hit in the head. Thanks to two police officers that pulled me to safety, I was not hurt worse.” Keeping his sense of humour, Gibbons quipped, “I went to a boxing match in Argentina and a soccer game broke out. Don’t cry for me, Argentina!” With the incident firmly behind him, Casimero is now looking forward. He’s booked for a rare appearance at home against Sammy Gutierrez possibly at the end of May.

Anson Wainwright – Firstly, belated congratulations on a terrific win over Luis Lazarte in Argentina. If we can talk about the fight first, can you tell us about it from your point of view? How happy were you with your performance? 
Johnriel Casimero - I believed that I deserved to win after I decked him twice. I was very happy because I did not let his dirty tactics affect me at all; my focus was still there. I was determined to win – for my country, my brother and family and for myself.
AW - After you won, there was chaos in the ring when you and several members of your team were viciously attacked. Could you tell us what happened?
JC - I did not expect the riot after the fight at all. Our team was really caught by surprise of the sudden chaos that happened after the fight. Chairs, plastic bottles were thrown into the ring, rowdy men charged inside the ring. We had to cover ourselves and protect ourselves all the time. We were kicked and punched even when my promoter, Sammy Gello-ani, and trainer, Pingping Tepora, were already down beside the ring. Angry people swarmed over them; they felt the pain but they cannot fight back. Me, I was already under the ring hiding but it was terribly hot – I felt dizzy and was about to faint due to almost dehydration until one Argentinean Osvaldo Rivero, who became our friend, pulled me out and brought me to the dressing room where my team was waiting.
AW - The IBF light flyweight champion Ulises Solis was injured, so you fought Lazarte for the interim championship. Solis has to meet you by October or he’ll be stripped. What are your thoughts on meeting Solis?
JC - I am ready for him anytime. I saw his fight with Lazarte twice and there is no doubt that I will beat him.
AW – You have fought your last five bouts in Nicaragua, Mexico, South Africa, the Philippines and Argentina. What do you make of fighting in all these different places?
JC - After fighting in these countries, I have gotten used to travel already. I have adjusted very well with these trips.
AW - Your fight with Cesar Canchila in late 2009 was an all-out war. It moved you into the world-class and, for many fight fans, it was the first time they saw you fight. Can you tell us about this fight?
JC - I showed everyone that I have good boxing talent when I beat Canchila in my first fight outside the Philippines. Canchila was a good boxer and world-class. It made me feel good; I have proven that I was ready to fight any world-class fighter.
AW - The two losses on your record are to Ramon Hirales via split decision and Moruti Mthalane in an IBF flyweight fight by fifth round TKO. What are your thoughts on those two fights?
JC - When I fought Hirales, the climate in Mexico was too hot to bear and it affected me same with the food. This added to my incomplete training and poor conditioning. With Mthalane, the notice was so short, that made me panic. Mthalane is also bigger in size and I have made an error in moving up in weight to be a flyweight.
AW - Who are the members of your team and where do you regularly train?
JC - I belong to the Omega Boxing Gym of International Pharmaceuticals in Mabolo, Cebu City, owned by Jun Pe Castillo and managed by James Osorio. My Philippine promoter is no other than SGG Sports Promotions of Samson Gello-ani, who has Sampson Boxing’s Sampson Lewkowicz as his international partner. I have Christopher Tepora as my trainer.
AW - Could you tell us about your training?  
JC - I train regularly, do the basic exercises and, as much as possible, non-stop training until a week before my fight. I eat food rich in protein to give me the much needed energy.
AW - Could you tell us about your younger days growing up in Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines? How did you first become interested in boxing?
JC - I grew up as a good boy. I was very much concentrated on my studies up to fourth year of high school. Amateur boxing is offered in our school; I got interested in it, so I joined and came out winning tournaments. That is when I decided to make boxing my career.
AW - Can you tell us a little about yourself as a person, your home life and what your hobbies and interests are? Do you have a day job/business away from boxing?
JC - I am a man of few words. We are a close-knit family. I love my family and that is exactly the reason why I am working hard for them. I would love to see my family live in comfort – just enough comfort.
When I am not training, I engage in a little soccer, basketball and shooting but my passion is boxing. As of the moment, I have no business yet but with God’s blessings, I plan to put one in God’s time.
AW - Who were your boxing heroes growing up? Who do you like to watch today?
JC - Of course, our one and only Manny Pacquiao. You mean in boxing, I like to watch all fights, especially in the junior flyweight division so that I can see how the world-class fighters under this division fight and who knows? I might have the chance to fight with them.
AW – Finally, do you have a message for boxing fans around the world?
JC - First and foremost, I thank God for all the blessings He has given me, for always being there, especially in times when I am disappointed, for the enlightenment and for making me, my family and my loved ones healthy. Secondly, to all those who believe in my capabilities, to my management team for all the support and understanding they have accorded me. For without them, I will not have the success I have been dreaming of.
To all my countrymen, always believe that we, Filipino boxers, do not always dream for the glory and honor for ourselves only- but for the whole country.

Questions and or comments can be sent to Anson at and you can follow him at

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