It was supposed to be a historic event for Filipinos in boxing. For now, it was canceled and one of the apparent major reasons was trashtalking that went way beyond boxing.
It was just over a week ago, a surprise rocked the Filipino boxing world when the Nonito Donaire-John Riel Casimero fight was announced. You see, this fight is a historic one because its a title unification bout, first of its kind for Filipinos. The “Filipino Flash” and “Quadro Alas” are supposed to fight on August 14 to unify their WBC and WBO bantamweight titles.
Everything seems okay until each camp tried to impose their will upon the other. It so happened what both camps want to impose things beyond boxing.
Team Casimero started drawing first blood: trashtalking in social media. Thing is the trashtalking went beyond boxing: from Donaire allegedly refusing to speak Filipino and calling him “malansang isda”, not supporting Filipino fighters that includes Michael Dasmarinas who recently lost a title fight with Naoya Inoue, his being “under the saya”, his not being a real Filipino, the misogynistic and gender-sensitive acts recorded on video, among others.
On the way to withdrawing from the fight, Team Donaire fired back. Thing is it, likewise, went beyond boxing, too. They indirectly question Casimero’s possible use of illegal substance to enhance his performance, question his lack of education and investment skills, dragging into the conversation the background of Casimero’s partner and then challenging her in a real fight, and wants the Casimero camp to play nice and by their rules.
Just over week later, Donaire appeared to be fed up of these spats and, by withdrawing, denied Casimero a bigger payday, not only the money, this fight should give him.
That’s what is unfortunate here. Aside from the historical and money aspect of it, the other boxing incentives this fight presents, especially for Casimero, went down the drain.
You see, Casimero, holding a 30-4 win-loss record, is already ripe for a big fight and on the verge of superstardom with one big win against any of the division’s top fighters.
Casimero has been doing his homework. He been going after and campaigning for a bout with the top gun of the bantamweight division, WBA and IBF title holder Naoya Inoue, for quite some time. They were supposed to fight over a year ago but for unknown reasons, that is yet to happen.
With Inoue being unavailable, Donaire is the next best thing for the 32-year old Casimero. A win over Donaire should do what a win over Inoue would. A win against Donaire would catapult him to a new stratosphere.
Team Casimero keep on insisting the opponent does not matter but it really does. A bout and win against Donaire or Inoue is way, way different against a win against Guillermo Rigondeaux, no disrespect to him.
There is a reason why Manny Pacquiao would prefer fight a non-title bout against Floyd Mayweather than a unification bout against Errol Spence, Jr. or Terrence Crawford if given a choice.
Casimero will not reach the mountain top if he does not get to face and defeat Inoue or Donaire no matter whose at fault for failure to set up the bout.
Opportunities like this doesn’t come often and it was a waste that the Casimero camp denied itself this one just because of the out of bounds trashtalking, which now appears to be a major reason of the cancellation of the fight.
Their trashtalk and being the heel in a rivalry is not a bad thing at all. Casimero’s style of being outspoken, although not common among Filipinos, is nothing new in boxing. It is in fact an effective way of selling fights.
But trashtalking is also about backing the talk. And mixing things that deal with subject other than fighting inside the ring to boxing these days is a bold route to pass. A boxer who alleges another boxer for something not related to boxing better be ready to back the talk also outside the ring.
It’s why it may not be a bad idea to follow the lead of the owner MP promotions, which handles Casimero himself. Pacquiao is a fighter who always respect his opponents and seldom, if at all, says anything bad against them.
In hindsight, it would have been perfect had both camps did the trashtalk but limit topics to boxing in selling the fight. Fans know both can fight and that’s what many want to see: who is better in the ring, not whose is a real Filipino, not whose wife is better at what they do, who is more educated and better in handling his money, etc.
Donaire’s withdrawal was confirmed and the fight is indeed off. Based on what happened, any hopes of the bout happening in the future seems to be in Casimero’s court. Let’s wait and see if his team would let this seemingly wasted opportunity turn into a brilliant gamesmanship ploy in the future.
This fight would have really give the Filipinos a moment to be proud of and the world a momentous boxing event.
By: Armando M. Bolislis