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By Dong Secuya
Sun, 21 Apr 2019

Former two-division world champion John Riel Casimero of the Philippines won a hard-fought 12th round stoppage over Mexican slugger Ricardo Espinoza Franco to capture the WBO Interim world batamweight title at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA on the undercard of Danny Garcia-Andrian Granados main-header Saturday night (Sunday in Manila).

Casimero (27-4-0, 17KOs) dropped Franco (23-3-0, 20KOs) in the 6th round but the Mexican knockout artist recovered and continued to press action as Casimero was catching for breath. Casimero caught Franco again in the 12th round for a second knockdown but after the Mexican beat the count, Casimero threw a barrage of unanswered punches before Referee Rudy Barragan stepped in to stop the carnage. Time: 44 seconds of the 12th round.

Casimero, who got derailed by a loss against compatriot Jonas Sultan on Sep. 16, 2017, is now back in harness by capturing a world title in a third division. The regular WBO world bantamweight champion is Zolani Tete of South Africa who will defend his WBO/WBA titles against Nonito Donaire Jr next week, April 27, in Lafayette, Louisiana for the WBSS tournament. The WBO earlier ruled that since the WBSS tournament will take time to finish, making the champion unavailable to defend his title against the WBO contenders, it sanctioned the Casimero-Franco fight for the Interim title.

Casimero earlier captured the IBF light flyweight and flyweight world titles.

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