Injury caused Zolani Tete to miss this year’s bantamweight World Boxing Super Series tournament and in turn, chances to potentially face both Nonito Donaire and Naoya Inoue. Tete had his sights set on a lucrative unification against tournament winner Inoue, but that lofty goal is now up in smoke courtesy of the right hands from John Riel Casimero, who stunned Tete in the third with three knockdowns to win the WBO title.
The big upset looked the complete opposite through the opening two rounds. Tete controlled distance with his southpaw right jab. The much shorter Casimero was forced to languish at long range and fire occasional, lunging counter hooks.
This changed early in the third when Casimero caught Tete leaning down with a flush right hook. The champion’s legs immediately stiffened and Casimero dropped him with a follow-up short right.
Tete never recovered from the punch.
A short barrage of shots on the ropes sent Tete sprawling belly-first moments later, and a final unanswered barrage on the ropes ended matters with 48 seconds remaining in the round.
The championship win caps a strong run for Casimero since losing a 12-round decision to Jonas Sultan in September 2017. Since then, Casimero has scored five wins (all by stoppage) and secured his first major title above flyweight. The overjoyed Casimero repeatedly called for a unification with Inoue, who holds the IBF and WBA bantamweight titles.
“Give me Inoue!” the 30-year old new Filipino champ yelled to everyone ringside.
The disastrous loss for Tete is his first since 2012 and drops him to 28-4 (21 KOs). Casimero improves to 29-4 (20 KOs).