Energy fancies chances against ex-world champ

Unheralded junior featherweight Fillipus Nghitumbwa will have the opportunity to gatecrash the world scene when he faces former world champion John Riel Casimero at the Okada Manila Hotel and Casino in Paranaque City, the Philippines, tomorrow.

It is the sort of fight the 27-year-old Namibian has long yearned for, but had to patiently bide his time and wait for.

“I believe this fight [has] come at the right time as I was preparing for a fight on March 15 in Australia versus Luke Boyd, but this fight was postponed,” Nghitumbwa (12-1, 11 knockouts) told The Ring. “I’m very excited to fight a three-division former world champion, as it gives me the opportunity to show the world my natural talent and to display my boxing skills. I respect his record and pedigree, but I’ll come with my own [resume].”

Although this is Nghitumbwa’s first fight outside Africa as a professional, it is not altogether new to him.

“I’ve been fighting outside Namibia as an amateur and fought also in Zimbabwe as a professional but that fight was never recorded on Boxrec,” he explained. “But I’m comfortable to fight anywhere in the world.”

The power-punching African, who is a father of three and works in his construction business when he is not training, knows victory would be very significant for his career.

“This is a great opportunity for my career, as a win will open great doors,” he said. “Every sportsman’s dream is to become a world champion and that’s my dream as well.

“After 13 May, the world and the boxing fraternity will take note of this African warrior. This fight will end in a great stoppage and I’ll be smiling for greatness.”

The Namibian arrived in the Philippines seven days prior to the fight after a journey that took almost 27 hours.

Nghitumbwa’s handler, Nestor Tobias, is bullish about his fighter’s prospects.

“It’s a good opportunity for my fighter and my country, as I trust this is the right time for him to get a fight of this magnitude,” said Tobias. “It’ll be tough but a win will open doors for him.

This has the makings of a fan-friendly shoot out between two big punchers. It is a huge step up for Nghitumbwa and we will not know if he is capable of pulling the upset until the fight begins. There comes a time when you have to see what you are made of and this is that moment for Nghitumbwa.

“I’m ready for this fight, I’m ready for this guy, and I know I’ll win. I’ve prepared very well. We’re ready for this guy and I’m ready to take him out,” said Nghitumbwa in an interview with Sparring Sessions.

Casimero (32-4, 22 KOs) rebounded after losing to IBF flyweight belt holder Moruti Mthalane (L TKO 5) to win world titles at 108 and 112. The globe-trotting Filipino power-puncher has outpointed Pedro Guevara (SD 12), scored a revenge win over Amnat Ruenroeng (KO 4) and halted Charlie Edwards (TKO 10).

He moved up to junior bantamweight but lost to compatriot Jonas Sultan (UD 12). Following a period of reflection, Casimero moved to bantamweight and, as underdog, stopped Zolani Tete (TKO 3) to win the WBO 118-pound title. He made two defences, which included edging past Guillermo Rigondeaux (SD 12) in an ugly battle.

Casimero was due to face mandatory challenger Paul Butler in Dubai, but succumbed to a mysterious stomach ailment at the 11th hour. The bout was rescheduled for April 2022, but Casimero broke British Boxing Board of Control rules when he used a sauna during fight week and got himself pulled from the card.

The WBO decided enough was enough and stripped the Filipino. He has since returned, beating Ryo Akaho (KO 2). –

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