Ghana is back on the world title trail after a rollercoaster couple of years where titles have been won and lost in spectacular fashion.
Richard Commey blasted out Issa Cheniev in two rounds and got stung in two by Teofimo Lopez in his second title defense.
Isaac Dogboe stopped Jessie Magdaleno in round 11 and lost the title in a one-sided defeat to Emmanuel Navarrete.
Duke Micah mounts the ring on Saturday night to challenge Filipino John Riel Casimero for the WBO Bantamweight crown. Micah, who’s ranked 11th by the WBO has his long-awaited world title shot because Casimeiro chose him for this voluntary title defense.
Micah’s ranking suggests he’s going into this fight as the underdog but a few experts have him as the favourite. They believe his place on the WBO ranking is deceptive and that Casimeiro may have made a mistake in choosing him as a dance partner.
Boxing rankings have always been contentious and in truth, it often deviates from the true abilities and pedigrees of those on the list. This is what happens when everything is tied to the payment of sanction fees. That, however, is a discussion for another day.
At 29, the Baby faced terminator is a couple of years younger than his opponent but 31 years in boxing isn’t a point of decline so there can’t be much of an advantage for either fighter.
Micah is undefeated in 24 fights, and has won 19 of them by way of knockout. That’s nearly 80% in knockout ratio terms. That record is superior compared to Casimeiro’s 68%.
His overall fight record stands at 29 wins, 20KO’s and 4 defeats. He’s also been stopped once, back in 2011 by Moruti Mthalane while challenging for the IBF Flyweight title.
Casimero is the more experienced fighter having made his debut in 2007, 5 years and 4 months before Micah whose professional debut came after the London 2012 Olympics.
The Filipino has fought a total 219 professional rounds, 10 times more than his Ghanaian opponent’s 120 rounds, that’s a massive 99 professional rounds more than Micah. This is significant and that experience of having seen more action in the ring could tell on Saturday night.
Duke Micah has the physical edge over the champion with his three-inch height advantage and longer reach. The science is simple; Casimeiro has to get close to connect with punches.
Micah can hit his target from range. This allows him to control the fight in respect of pace and areas of the ring where the action happens.
The physical advantage in itself will be useless unless a boxer is technically equipped to utilize it. Casimeiro’s considerable experience may also mean he’s come up against fighters with a height and reach advantage and has found a way of negating it.
Beyond these numbers lie what the two fighters have been up to in the last two years. Four out of Casimeiro’s last five wins have come by way of stoppages.
He won the title by beating South Africa’s Zolani Tete via a third-round TKO. Before that, he had beaten Cesar Ramirez, Riccardo Espinoza and Kenya Ramashita. All of these fights happened in 2019.
His last five fights have come over a period of two years, two months and fourteen days. He fights on average of 6 months and 20 days.
Micah fought twice in 2017 against Jonathan Aguilar and Jose Santos Gonzalez. Aguilar retired in the eighth round while Gonzalez went the full distance, with Micah winning via a controversial majority decision.
That was followed up with a split decision win over Thomas Snow and a unanimous decision victory over Janiel Rivera.
Four years ago I would have called this an easy win for Duke Micah but his three or four fights have been anything but convincing.
At his best, he’s top quality. He’s very capable of winning but it will require him to be at his very best. Anything short of that and Casimero is likely to have his hands raised on Saturday night.
What happens when two orthodox fighters clash? The answer is hard to predict but this looks like anybody’s fight on paper.