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John Riel Casimero becomes new WBO 'global' champ after edging Namibian foe

John Riel Casimero addresses the crowd after winning the WBO global super bantamweight title. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PARAÑAQUE—John Riel Casimero succeeded in his much-anticipated debut in the super bantamweight division, beating Namibia's Filipus Nghitumbwa for the WBO global championship in the 122-pound group on Saturday night at the Okada Manila Grand Ballroom.

A knockdown in Round 6 and a point deduction in the final round virtually became the turning points as Casimero outpointed a game and gritty Nghitumbwa for the WBO's secondary title belt.

Looking to fulfill his vow to end the fight very early, Casimero quickly went on the offensive and staggered Nghitumbwa with solid hits, but the visitor turned out to be too tough for an opponent and even connected on shots of his own to somehow keep the match close.

Casimero, however, connected on a left hook that floored Nghitumbwa early into Round 6. Nghitumbwa, despite still wobbling a bit, managed to make the eight count and eventually the round.

Casimero came close to delivering another knockdown on Nghitumbwa late into Round 8, but the Namibian was saved by the bell.

Nghitumbwa, though, was deducted a point in Round 12 for hitting Casimero at the back of his head, which eventually sealed both boxers' fate.

One judge had it 114-112, while the other two tallied the bout 116-110 all in favor of Casimero, who has now won nine straight bouts and moved up to 33-4 in his career.

Nghitumbwa, on the other hand, fell to 12-2.

In the supporting bout, Weljon Mindoro failed to take away the WBO Asia-Pacific junior middleweight title from Takeshi Inoue, although Mindoro kept his undefeated start alive after forcing a split draw.

Like Nghitumbwa, the Japanese Inoue turned out to be too tough for Mindoro to even knock down, although both pugilists engaged in a heated battle for the whole 36 minutes.

One judge gave Inoue an overwhelming 117-111 win, but another gave Mindoro a 115-113 win and the third juror tallied the bout 114-114.

Both boxers tallied their first stalemate in their pro careers.

In the other title bout, Arnel Baconaje claimed the Philippine super featherweight title after edging Jhon Gemino.

Baconaje delivered a masterclass almost all match long to edge Gemino.

One judge had it 117-111, while the other two had it 116-112 for Baconaje, who is now at 16-7, dropping Gemino to 23-17 in the process.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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