By Derek Bonnett
British neophyte Charlie Edwards met John Riel Casimero at the O2 Arena in a bid to lift the IBF flyweight title. Casimero, making the first defense of the title he won back in May, was favored, but some sentimental money backed Edwards to become the fifteenth current reigning world boxing champion from the United Kingdom.
Edwards boxed with good fundamentals in round one. However, he was not landing much or finding range. Understandably, the unseasoned challenger was a little antsy. Casimero, though, was a little too casual and lacking in respect. Leading with bombs in the form of rights, the champion was too wild to be dominant. Yet, he did enough to win the round. Round two saw a similar tempo. Casimero’s left hook snuck in once each round with power. Focus was placed on his right though. He might have been baiting the youngster to relax to that side. Edwards moved well on his feet and showed good head movement too. He was not in range though and dropped another round to the champion. Round three was up for grabs due to light activity, but the champion landed a couple thudding blows more cleanly than anything Edwards threw. Casimero wobbled Edwards with a right hand and then again to the body in round four. For the first time, Edwards looked stunned. The challenger kept his footing though. Casimero pressured for an easy round. Edwards used his feet a lot to avoid shots. Casimero led 40-36 on the unofficial SecondsOut card.
Edwards had his best round in the fifth. Enough so that I gave it to him. He boxed and put in double jabs and tried to increase his output. Casimero was less active and even though he landed another big right, he was sloppy in search of more. Edwards repeated the effort with a little more resistance in round six. He landed a nice right hand on the champ. Casimero went back to the body, but was not landing with full contact or missing altogether. Two in a row for the challenger on my card. However, Casimero responded well. He got back to bullying the kid and applying big pressure. Edwards was on the retreat for most of the round and was wobbled again. Edwards fought bravely, but appeared to be only ready for domestic talent. Casimero started strong and took advantage of the more timid fighter still shell-shocked from the previous round. Edwards boxed well over the last minute though. Casimero led 78-74 on the SecondsOut card.
Edwards was not laying down yet and he acquitted himself well in round nine. Casimero was warned for low blows a couple times. A point loss looked imminent if the fight continued for twelve. Edwards threw in combination, but failed to adjust. Casimero landed several good shots in the frame. In round ten Casimero dropped Edwards with a massive left hook. (Called it!) Edwards rose a dead man walking. Casimero was allowed a few more seconds and he swarmed wisely. Edwards was saved in timely fashion at 1:57 of round ten.
Casimero lifted his ledger to 23-3-0 (15). The two division champion marked his first defense. Edwards, a champion at the domestic level, fell to 8-1 (3).
In a hotly contested rematch, Lee Haskins retained his IBF bantamweight title with a repeat unanimous decision victory over former champion Stuart Hall. Haskins took home scores of 115-113, 116-112, and 117-111. Unofficially, SecondsOut scored the bout 114-114. The twelve rounds were a tale of two fights with Haskins dominating the first six and Hall coming on over the last six. The victory was not unjust, but the final score listed was far too wide. However, Hall has to absorb a lot of the blame due to his late start. Hall stunned Haskins in the eleventh as the champion tired, but it was too little too late. Haskins lifted his ledger to 34-3-0 (14). Hall dipped to 20-5-2 (7).
Also on the card, Callum Smith raised his record to 21-0-0 (16) with a seventh round stoppage of Norbert Nemespati. Smith dominated each round with busier hands, but looked poised to end matters in the opening minute. Nemespati survived and never threatened with an offensive. Smith dropped Nemespati late in the seventh round with a right hook to the solar plexus. Smith landed a blow while his man was down unintentionally, but the damage was done. The bell saved Nemespati, but the fighter wisely surrendered in his corner and fell to 21-4-0 (16).