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Johnriel Casimero once again proved that home-town disadvantage won’t stop him from winning after successfully retaining his International Boxing Federation light flyweight title.

Fighting in front of hostile crowd in Mexico, Casimero defied the odds as he scored a close split decision victory over Mexican challenger Pedro Guevarra on Sunday at the Mazatlan Convention Center in Sinaloa.

The 22-year-old Filipino champion got the nod of judges Levi Martinez, 114-113, and Matthew Podgorski, 116-111, while judge Ruben Garcia scored the bout 114-113 in favor of Guevarra.

Casimero, who won the interim title in a riot-marred fight against Luis Lazarte in Argentina earlier this year before being elevated as the full champion, dictated the tempo of the match early as he scored a knockdown via perfectly-executed uppercut.

Guevarra, who was visibly stunned by Casimero’s power in the first round, refused to engage with the Filipino and decided to utilize his height and reach advantage, but Casimero found ways to get into his opponent.

Casimero floored Guevarra once again in the sixth round, but referee Ramon Corona controversially ruled it as a slip, but his aggressiveness and clear blows were enough for the Filipino champion to retain his world title.

“He kept running and I got tired chasing him and although only one knockdown was called by the referee the second knockdown in round six helped get the decision,” Casimero said.

Casimero’s manager Sammy Gello-ani admitted that he was nervous when the decision was being announced because of a possible controversial home-town decision, but dropping his opponent proved to be enough to avoid a controversial loss.

“I was worried because it’s not easy to fight in Mexico. It’s very difficult. He had to drop Guevara to win and I am happy that he did and also happy with the result,”

With the win, Gello-ani is already thinking of their next title defense and he is hoping that Casimero’s next fight will be in the Philippines – and this will only happen if they would have enough sponsors.

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