Hours before unified World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue was scheduled to defend against the Philippines' Michael Dasmariñas, a big fight was signed in this division, and it involved two of Dasmariñas' countrymen.
In a move that is another step closer to crowning an undisputed champion at 118 pounds, fellow Filipino titlists Nonito Donaire and John Riel Casimero have agreed to unify their World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight championships on August 14.
The development was announced by Donaire on his social media accounts on early Sunday morning Manila time.
My team does magic. Thank you to Richard Shaefer, Rachel Donaire, PBC, TGB and Showtime. Started camp last week. Belt #2 coming soon. pic.twitter.com/utOHearTSz— Nonito Donaire (@filipinoflash) June 19, 2021
The 38-year-old Donaire (41 wins, six losses, 27 knockouts) is fresh off reclaiming the WBC title with a stoppage win over Nordine Oubaali last month. The 32-year-old Casimero (30 wins, four losses, 21 KOs) won his WBO belt back in 2019 via technical knockout against Zolani Tete. He defended it once against Duke Micah and was set to face Guillermo Rigondeaux on August 14 before it was scrapped to give way to the all-Filipino duel.
World title matches between two Filipino boxers are rare but have happened more in the past few of years.
It happened in 2018 when Jerwin Ancajas defended his IBF super flyweight title against Jonas Sultan. A few months later Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte fought for the vacant WBO super flyweight title but it unfortunately ended in a draw. Earlier this year, Rene Mark Cuarto defeated Pedro Taduran to win the IBF minimumweight championship.
The fight between Donaire and Casimero will be special not only because it will be a high-profile battle but also because it's the first time that two Filipino champions will get the chance to unify their world titles.
"My team does magic," posted Donaire on his Facebook page. "Thank you to Richard Shaefer, Rachel Donaire, PBC, TGB and Showtime. Started camp last week. Belt #2 coming soon."
He explained on Twitter that MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons, who represents Casimero, told him that the fight was his if he wanted it, to which Donaire said yes.
Casimero had been vocal about a possible unification bout against Inoue, but now he'll face an equally exciting fighter and future Hall-of Famer in Donaire.
🇵🇭 x 🇵🇭— John Riel Casimero (@casimerojr) June 20, 2021