John Riel Casimero stops bloodied Kenya Yamashita; Penalosa cousins score KOs

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A right uppercut followed by a spin move, like a basketball player going to the hoop, capped off the bantamweight debut of John Riel Casimero on Saturday night, earning him a sixth round technical knockout win over Kenya Yamashita.

Yamashita, his face bloodied from a possibly broken nose since the round before, collapsed to the canvas in anguish just as the corner threw in the towel. It appeared for a moment that the Japanese fighter was in some distress as he was carried to his stool, but those concerns were assuaged once he rose up the canvas to embrace Casimero.

Casimero’s outing at the SM City North EDSA Skydome in Quezon City was his first in the Philippines since 2017, when he lost an upset to Jonas Sultan that derailed his title chances at 115 pounds. That night Casimero looked zapped, but this night he was full of energy, letting his hands go with over hand rights and uppercuts from the opening bell.

The former junior flyweight and flyweight titleholder turned his opponent’s body in the fourth to significant effect, forcing the 22-year-old to keep his hands at home.

With his career lacking direction after he vacated the IBF flyweight belt, Casimero (26-4, 17 knockouts) says he wants to get back in the ring as soon as possible to support his baby, who was born last year. Yamashita (13-5, 10 KOs) loses for the fourth time by stoppage.

The co-featured bout on the ESPN 5 broadcast saw Dave Penalosa survive some rocky moments to stop Marcos Cardenas in four rounds.

Penalosa (15-0, 11 KOs), who needed three trips to the scales and over two extra hours to make the 126-pound limit, landed three right hooks, head, body and head, to knock the Mexican Cardenas (19-7-1, 15 KOs) off balance in round one.

Penalosa, who is the son of two-time world champ Dodie Boy Penalosa, continued to land right hooks in the second and third, but began lowering his target to the taller fighter’s midsection. As Penalosa looked for a counter right hook, Cardenas got the distance to his advantage and looped his shot to beat Penalosa with a right hand that rocked the 28-year-old Filipino. As Cardenas looked to finish the fight, Penalosa spotted the openings, and with a right hook-left cross combination put Cardenas down 20 seconds later. 

A minute later, the second knockdown, this time by a left uppercut to the midsection. Cardenas rose up again, but a counter left hand to the body sent him down a third time, compelling referee Danrex Tapdasan to stop the fight at the 2:47 mark.

The win earns Penalosa the WBO Oriental belt, which should get him placed into the division’s top 15. Gerry Penalosa, himself a former two-time world champion, as well as Dave’s uncle and promoter, wants to put up an offer to bring WBO featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez to the Philippines.

A little further down the scale, another Penalosa cousin, Carlo Caesar Penalosa (14-1, 7 KOs) finished Thailand’s Watana Phenbaan (18-6, 11 KOs) with a right hook to the body at 2:22 of round three of their flyweight fight.

Also in action, Carlo Jammes Martin (12-0, 11 KOs) overwhelmed the smaller Petchchorhae Kokietgym with activity, dropping the Thai twice before he retired on his stool after the third. Martin, 19, of Ifugao province, was fighting in the National Capital Region for the first time.

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