In a magnificent world title fight South Africa’s Zolani Tete (28-3, 21KOs) risks his WBO bantamweight title against Filipino interim champion John Riel Casimero (28-4, 19KOs) where the winner will be likely to face IBF and WBA title holder Naoya Inoue in 2020.
Lerrone Richards (12-0, 3KOs) takes on Halesowen’s Lennox Clarke (19-0-1, 7KOs) for the Commonwealth and vacant British super-middleweight belt in a battle of unbeaten boxers.
Sam Bowen (15-0, 11KOs) defends his British super-featherweight championship against Anthony Cacace (17-1, 7KOs).
Swansea’s British and Commonwealth welterweight champion Chris Jenkins (22-3-2, 8KOs) makes a defence against Middleton’s Liam Taylor (21-1, 10KOs).
Liverpool puncher Sam Maxwell (12-0 (10KOs) defends his WBO European super lightweight crown against unbeaten Connor Parker (12-0, 1KO) from Derbyshire.
Ilford prospect Hamzah Sheeraz (9-0, 5KOs) will fight for his first title against Ryan Kelly (14-2, 7KOs).
Here are a selection of quotes from today’s press conference
“I have been out injured because of shoulder tendonitis, but the way I have been training it shouldn’t bother me. I didn’t need surgery, but it took a couple of months to get it right. Mentally and physically I am still there and the injury will not stand in my way. It was frustrating getting injured in the World Boxing Super Series and pulling out, but Casimero is one of the best.
Hopefully after this defence my next fight will be Naoya Inoue. If I beat Casimero that fight is a step closer. It is possible to meet Inoue next year.
My promoter Mr Frank Warren will do his best to make the fight happen. My shoulder will not come off, but you will see punches bouncing off Casimero’s head. He is a good fighter though who can come forward and has power, but we will deal with those things.
JOHN RIEL CASIMERO
“This is a good fight and I will give a good performance. My advantage is power and stamina. My promoter Manny Pacquiao had told me that if I’ve worked hard I can win. This is my second time boxing here and in the first fight Charlie Edwards was beaten. I am a better fighter now. Zolani is a good boxer and tough, but second to me. I will do my best to knock him out.”
SEAN GIBBONS (President, Manny Pacquiao Promotions)
“To have Senator Manny Pacquiao behind you tells you how good Casimero is. The Senator can sign a lot of fighters, but only goes with good ones. Casimero has travelled the world and feels comfortable here. He is one of the top three or four fighters in the Philippines.”
“Lennox talks a little bit too much and is about to find out what Lerrone Richards is all about. There are more strings to my bow than just boxing. I work hard and I don’t want anyone to think I’m lazy.
“I was at York Hall watching my friend box and Lennox was there giving me screw faces from the other side, but no problem. This is strictly business. I have trained for a hard night, but I’m anticipating victory.”
“I am not looking at my home advantage. Lerrone is very professional, but I have done the hard work. No matter how good his boxing ability is he has to be prepared to go where I am prepared to go.
“His boxing is boring. I am gonna bring excitement and fireworks. I believe it will be a 12 round fight and he will try and nick it because that is how he fights. I am going to be to relentless and cause him nightmares. I believe I will be British and Commonwealth champion on Saturday.”
“I am sure Cacace fancies it, but I will show what I am about and win. He is a good rangy fighter, but I have to rough him up and hurt him which I will do.
“I have left my full-time job and I am a lot more refreshed. I don’t have the flu or cold like I normally before fights because I am drained from training and working. There are competitive British fights, but I want to push on with the WBO and get a world title fight.”
“People talk about the dramas of my last fight and some fighter learn from a loss, but I learnt from a win. I know I need to be switched on from the first bell.
“I will get to the top. I am feeling fresher and moved to Scotland for my camps. My Mum beat cancer and I have that strength in me as well to battle through. She never loses faith in me and its great to have someone like that.”
“Sam won his last fight, but it might have been an off night. I am just ready for the best Sam Maxwell. I know what I am capable of and confident of winning. The only way Sam beats me is to knock me out.”
“I don’t want to fight journeymen, build up a padded record and then fail when I fight for a big title. I feel this is the time and I am ready. I can bang on about how good training is but the proof is Saturday. Ryan is a solid step up and is someone who will get the best out of me.”
“I am here to win. I am never just gonna be the opponent and I am the home fighter in Birmingham. Hamzah is a good talent, but he is stepping up through levels. I am looking forward to getting in there and going to work. I am looking forward to an exciting fight against a hungry fighter.
“Liam has got a win over Tyrone Nurse and I lost to him even though I thought I won. He is tall, rangy and deserves his shot. This fight should have happened before.
“I have had some good sparring with Robbie Davies Jr who is rangy like Liam. Everything has been done and on Saturday I will win, simple as.
“I lost my best friend 12 months ago. I was getting cut and thought; ‘do I need this,’ but look where I am now? I could write a book on it.”
“Chris is a very good fighter and I have seen a lot of him. I didn’t expect him to beat Johnny Garton to become British title holder, but that win proves he is a very worthy champion.
I have to do what I do best and box at range. It will be a good tactical fight, but I believe I am better in every department. I was mandatory challenger and deserve this shot.”
Zolani Tete faces John Riel Casimero on Sat. LIVE on ESPN+
South African southpaw Zolani Tete, the WBO bantamweight world champion, will make his first title defense in more than a year against former two-weight world champion John Riel Casimero on Saturday from Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, England.
This will be the fourth title defense for Tete, who withdrew from the World Boxing Super Series tournament earlier this year with a shoulder injury.
Tete-Casimero will headline a scheduled six-bout stream on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.
Tete (28-3, 21 KOs) is unbeaten in 12 bouts dating back to 2012, a streak that includes a brief reign as the IBF junior bantamweight world champion. He moved up to bantamweight in 2016 and captured the interim WBO bantamweight title the following year with a unanimous decision over Arthur Villanueva. He was soon elevated to world champion and, in his first title defense in November 2017, he authored an 11-second knockout over Siboniso Gonya. The KO came on Tete’s first punch of the fight and broke a boxing record for the fastest KO in a world title bout. Tete has defended his belt twice since the Gonya bout, notching decisions over Omar Narvaez and Mikhail Aloyan.
Casimero (28-4, 19 KOs), from Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines, is looking to become the fourth Filipino boxer to win world titles in three weight classes. He reigned as IBF junior flyweight world champion from 2012-2013, and he won the IBF flyweight world title in 2016 with a fourth-round knockout over Amnat Ruenroeng. He has won four consecutive bouts and picked up the interim WBO bantamweight title while Tete was recovering from his injury. He defended the interim belt in August in Manila, stopping Mexican veteran Cesar Ramirez in the 10th round.
In other action from Birmingham:
Lerrone Richards (12-0, 3 KOs) will fight Birmingham native Lennox Clarke (19-0-1, 7 KOs) in a 12-rounder for the vacant British super middleweight title and Clarke’s Commonwealth belt. Clarke has won four in a row since the lone draw on his record, while Richard is coming off a decision win over Tommy Langford for the Commonwealth crown.
In a battle of unbeatens, Sam Maxwell (12-0, 10 KOs) will make the first defense of his WBO European junior welterweight title in a 10-rounder versus southpaw Connor Parker (12-0, 1 KO).
Hamzah Sheeraz (9-0, 5 KOs), only 20 years old, will take step up in class when he faces fellow Birmingham native Ryan Kelly (14-2, 7 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Sheeraz is 3-0 with three knockouts in two rounds or less in 2019.
Sam “Bullet” Bowen (15-0, 11 KOs) will make the second defense of his British super featherweight title against Belfast native Anthony Cacace (17-1, 7 KOs) in a 12-round showdown. Bowen won the British title in March with a ninth-round stoppage over Jordan McCorry in a bout that was streamed live on ESPN+.
Dennis “The Menace” McCann (4-0, 3 KOs), a 19-year-old bantamweight prodigy from Maidstone, England, will face Elvis Guillan (9-59-4, 6 KOs) in a scheduled six-rounder.