John Riel Casimero vacates flyweight belt, eyes junior bantamweight titleholders

John Riel Casimero, already a two-division world titleholder, announced Tuesday that he will vacate his flyweight belt and move up in weight to seek a title in the junior bantamweight division.

"To win my third title would be a great honor for me and put my name in with some of the best fighters my country has ever produced," said Casimero, who is a native of the Philippines. "I will be immediately looking to make an impact and fight the big fights that allow me the opportunity."

Casimero (23-3, 15 KOs), 26, held a junior flyweight title from 2012 until losing it for failing to make weight before a defense in 2014.

His first shot at a flyweight belt, in June 2015, resulted in a decision loss to Amnat Ruenroeng in Thailand, but they met in a rematch 11 months later and Casimero knocked him out in the fourth round, in China, to win the 112-pound belt.

Casimero made one defense, traveling to London to face hometown fighter Charlie Edwards on Sept. 10 on the Gennady Golovkin-Kell Brook undercard at the O2 Arena and knocking him out in the 10th round. Now Casimero is headed up to the 115-pound division, where he would like to tangle with titleholders Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, boxing's pound-for-pound king, and countryman Jerwin Ancajas.

Sampson Lewkowicz, Casimero's promoter, said his fighter is ready to make the move up the scale and ready to fight one of the top dogs of the division.

"He's so strong, and he keeps growing," Lewkowicz said. "It is time for John Riel to move up and secure his place in Philippines boxing history. It is our hope to quickly face Ancajas and Chocolatito next year. That is what we will work to make happen."

To fill the vacant flyweight title, the IBF said it will order former strawweight and junior flyweight titleholder Donnie Nietes (39-1-4, 22 KOs), 34, of the Philippines, to face Eaktawan Krungthepthonburi (22-3, 15 KOs), 27, of Thailand.