<
>

Naoya Inoue-John Riel Casimero bout, undercard and site finalized

Top Rank on Thursday made the Naoya Inoue-John Riel Casimero bantamweight title unification fight official, as well as the site, broadcast platform and key undercard bouts.

The fight will take place April 25 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and it will headline a three-fight main card on ESPN+ (9 p.m. ET) with preliminary fights airing on ESPN2 beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

As expected, two-belt bantamweight world titlist Inoue will have the first fight of his Top Rank co-promotional contract against Casimero as they attempt to unify three of the four major 118-pound world titles.

The card will also feature a fight between bantamweight contenders Jason Moloney and Joshua Greer Jr.‎ and the return of former junior lightweight world titlist Andrew Cancio.

"The 'Monster' is coming to Las Vegas, and we couldn't be more excited," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. "He is a generational talent, a fierce competitor who is ready to take the United States by storm. Casimero is a seasoned champion, and Inoue knows he's in for a firefight at Mandalay Bay."

Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs), 26, one of the best fighters on the world pound-for-pound list, is a three-division titleholder coming off a unanimous decision win over Nonito Donaire in a thrilling title unification fight in the final of the eight-man World Boxing Super Series tournament on Nov. 7 in Saitama, Japan. The fight was selected 2019 fight of the year by several media outlets as well as the Boxing Writers Association of America.

With Inoue having healed from the terrible gash over his right eye, a fractured nose and a fractured orbital bone suffered in the bout, he is excited for his second fight in the United States.

"It is a tremendous honor and a dream come true to headline a card in Las Vegas against a great fighter like Casimero," Inoue said. "It is my goal to be the undisputed bantamweight king, and I am coming to America to put on a great fight for the fans. I would like to thank Mr. Bob Arum and MGM Resorts for making my Las Vegas dream a reality. Now, the work begins, and I will kick off my 2020 schedule at Mandalay Bay in devastating fashion."

The Philippines' Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs), 30, who has also won world titles in three divisions, claimed his bantamweight belt by upset third-round knockout of South Africa's powerful Zolani Tete on Nov. 30 in Birmingham, England, and will be making his first defense against Inoue.

"This is my dream fight," Casimero said. "I have traveled the world and fought in 10 countries. I've won world titles at 108, 112 and 118 pounds. But ever since I saw my hero and fellow countryman, Senator Manny Pacquiao, fight in Las Vegas that has been my dream. To everyone who thinks I am the underdog on April 25, I will shock the world and show the fans who the real 'Monster' is in the ring."

In the co-feature, Chicago's Greer and Australia's Moloney will meet in a 10-round bout that will position the winner to eventually challenge the winner of the main event.

Greer (22-1-1, 12 KOs), 25, has won 19 fights in a row but the fight with Moloney is by far his most significant. Greer will go into the fight having reunited with trainer George Hernandez.

"I know what I've done before, and I know that I'm capable of," Greer said. "George is the perfect man for the job. We have great chemistry. I love being back in the gym with him. This is what separates the boys from the men. I'm just ready to show the world who I am. Thanks to Moloney for taking the challenge and I look forward to getting busy April 25."

The 29-year-old Moloney (20-1, 17 KOs) suffered his only loss by split decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez in a world title fight in the World Boxing Super Series quarterfinals in October 2018 in Orlando, Florida. The fight with Greer will be Moloney's second fight in the United States.

"I'm extremely grateful for this big opportunity," Moloney said. "Fighting in Las Vegas has been a dream of mine for many years, and I'm looking forward to having a very impressive win over Joshua Greer Jr. and moving another step closer to becoming world champion. April 25 is a very important day for us in Australia and New Zealand called Anzac Day. It is a day of remembrance, where we pay our respects to all those who have served and died for our beautiful country. I will do whatever it takes to win this fight, and I will dedicate this victory to all those who have served for us."

In the opening bout of the main card, Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KOs), 31, of Blythe, California, will have his first fight since singing with Top Rank last month after his release by Golden Boy Promotions shortly after he lost his 130-pound world title by seventh-round knockout to Rene Alvarado in an upset in November. Cancio was released after complaining about how Golden Boy was promoting him.

Top Rank, which is loaded at junior lightweight, quickly signed him. He will face Tyler McCreary (16-1-1, 7 KOs), 26, of Toledo, Ohio, in a 10-rounder.

"I'm very excited to start my next chapter with Top Rank on April 25 against Tyler McCreary at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and on such an outstanding card," Cancio said. "I know how formidable an opponent McCreary is, but I'll be more than ready to be victorious and put on a great show for the fans when I return to battle."

McCreary is aiming to rebound from a unanimous 10-round decision defeat to former two-division titleist Carl Frampton in November.

"It's another big opportunity, something I couldn't pass up," McCreary said. "He's a former world champion, but he's no Carl Frampton. This is a stepping stone for bigger fights. I have to get past him to see the bigger names. I learned a lot from the Frampton fight, and that experience is the No. 1 teacher for me."

The ESPN2 broadcast of preliminary fights will include a 10-round junior welterweight bout involving former world title challenger Alex Saucedo (29-1, 19 KOs), 25, of Oklahoma City, whose opponent was not announced, although according to sources, he is due to face Sonny Fredrickson (21-2, 14 KOs), 25, of Toledo, Ohio.