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Casimero to resolve issues

By Joaquin Henson
Tue, 23 Apr 2019

Newly-crowned interim WBO bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero has managerial and promotional issues to resolve but advisor Sean Gibbons said yesterday it’s his job to do what’s best for the boxer and if it requires going to court, then that’s the path to take.

Casimero, 30, has been managed or promoted by Sammy Gello-ani of Cebu, Las Vegas-based former WBA superlightweight champion Morris East of Olongapo, Sampson Lewkowicz of Uruguay and the Omega Boxing Club of Cebu in his career. There are two more years left in his managerial contract with East and one more in his promotional deal with Gello-ani. Gibbons, a Las Vegas international matchmaker working with WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao, arranged Casimero’s fight against No. 1 contender Ricardo Espinoza of Mexico for the interim WBO title in Carson City, California, last Saturday. Casimero, making his US debut, won by a 12th round knockout.

Gello-ani, who has been involved with Casimero for years, said he’s cooperating with Gibbons. “We’ll wait for Casimero’s return and discuss with Sean what will be next for him,” he said. “Casimero has a live promotional contract with me. His managerial case with Omega was dismissed by GAB. His present problem is his managerial contract with Morris which he signed in Las Vegas last year. But he left Morris and returned to the Philippines. Once Casimero is back, we will sit down and resolve this problem.”

Gello-ani said Casimero was lucky that two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa, now a promoter, signed him for a fight against Japan’s Kenya Yamashita at the SM City North EDSA Skydome last February. “Gerry asked permission from me to include Casimero in his promotion and without a second thought, I approved it, knowing it will be good for Casimero,” said Gello-ani. “I thank Gerry for helping him on his way back to the top.”

Gello-ani said after Casimero stopped Yamashita, he got the offer to fight Espinoza. “Due to his training with Jhun Agrabio, I knew Casimero would be ready for Espinoza,” he said. “Espinoza is taller and I told Agrabio that Casimero will win. Taller opponents are good for Casimero who has knocked out most of his taller opponents.” Agrabio failed to make the trip to the US because of visa problems and former WBC lightflyweight titlist Rodel Mayol, now a trainer, took care of Casimero when he arrived in Los Angeles over a week ago.

“I’m trying to resolve things,” said Gibbons. “I’m Casimero’s advisor. If it requires going to court, then let’s do it. From what I know, a boxer has the right to terminate a managerial or promotional contract if it’s disadvantageous to him or if he was hoodwinked into signing.”

East said his legal team is standing by to protect his rights as Casimero’s manager. “I know Casimero’s trying to be slick because he got reckless hopping around with no respect to the contents of his contract,” said East. “Sammy has one year left in his contract and he took care of Casimero’s contract with Omega. Lewkowicz has released Casimero. Gerry wanted to buy his contract off me but I told him no way so he got him for only one fight. I’ve already incurred too many expenses for him. His contract with me is notarized. He called me for help and I rejected him at first. When he got to the US, I can’t begin to tell you about his foul-doing and he took off with some vultures so I have several breach of contract issues with him then he went back to the Philippines spreading foul, malicious gossip about me, not including cyber bullying that I had to delete multiple times.”

East said he, too, hopes to discuss Casimero’s future with Gibbons. “I told Sean my intentions for Casimero are only pure honest boxer to boxer talk if only he would be civil and professional enough to listen and know the facts instead of listening to people who do not know much about boxing,” said East. “I had a promotional contract ready to sign the day he left the US which was very promising. Instead, he listened to the wrong people. They’re poisoning his mind. That’s why he doesn’t see the big picture. He’s very stubborn. If I have to talk to Pacquiao, I will. Anyway, Pacquiao and I used to be stablemates. I knew him before he was anybody.”

Gibbons said all he wants is to give Filipino boxers like Casimero a chance to get their careers on track. He negotiated for Casimero, ranked No. 6, to fight for the interim crown with the top contender and the gamble paid off.

Mayol, who’s gaining a solid reputation as a world-class trainer, said he was worried about Casimero's fight against Espinoza lasting the full route. “Buti na lang na knock out si Espinoza,” he said. Judge Pat Russell gave seven of the nine rounds before the 12th to Espinoza, including the ninth and 11th which the two other judges Lou Moret and Zachary Young scored for Casimero. If Espinoza took the last round, he would've won by a split decision. After the fight, Casimero said he would straighten out his life and get serious about his boxing career. Since turning pro in 2007, the Ormoc City slugger has struggled with weight, attitude and managerial problems.

Photo: Johnriel Casimero (middle) is flanked by trainer Rodel Mayol and Brendan Gibbons (photo by Jhay Otamias).

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