South African southpaw Zolani Tete, the WBO bantamweight champion, will make his first title defense in more than a year against former two-weight champion John Riel Casimero on Saturday from Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, England. This will be the fourth title defense for Tete, who withdrew from the World Boxing Super Series tournament earlier this year with a shoulder injury. Tete-Casimero will headline a scheduled six-bout stream on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.
Tete (28-3, 21 KOs) is unbeaten in 12 bouts dating back to 2012, a streak that includes a brief reign as the IBF junior bantamweight champion. He moved up to bantamweight in 2016 and captured the interim WBO title the following year with a unanimous decision over Arthur Villanueva. He was soon elevated to world champion and, in his first title defense in November 2017, he authored an 11-second knockout over Siboniso Gonya. The KO came on Tete’s first punch of the fight and broke a boxing record for the fastest KO in a world title bout. Tete has defended his belt twice since the Gonya bout, notching decisions over Omar Narvaez and Mikhail Aloyan.
Casimero (28-4, 19 KOs), from Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines, is looking to become the fourth Filipino boxer to win world titles in three weight classes. He reigned as IBF junior flyweight champion from 2012-2013, and he won the IBF flyweight title in 2016 with a fourth-round knockout over Amnat Ruenroeng. He has won four consecutive bouts and picked up the interim WBO bantamweight title while Tete was recovering from his injury. He defended the interim belt in August in Manila, stopping Mexican veteran Cesar Ramirez in the tenth round.
In other action from Birmingham:
Lerrone Richards (12-0, 3 KOs) will fight Birmingham native Lennox Clarke (19-0-1, 7 KOs) in a twelve rounder for the vacant British super middleweight title and Clarke's Commonwealth belt. Clarke has won four in a row since the lone draw on his record, while Richard is coming off a decision win over Tommy Langford for the Commonwealth crown.
In a battle of unbeatens, Sam Maxwell (12-0, 10 KOs) finds himself in a junior welterweight ten-rounder versus southpaw Connor Parker (12-0, 1 KO).
Hamzah Sheeraz (9-0, 5 KOs), only 20 years old, will take step up in class when he faces fellow Birmingham native Ryan Kelly (14-2, 7 KOs) in a ten-rounder. Sheeraz is 3-0 with three knockouts in two rounds or less in 2019.
Sam “Bullet” Bowen (15-0, 11 KOs) will make the second defense of his British super featherweight title against Belfast native Anthony Cacace (17-1, 7 KOs) in a twelve-round showdown. Bowen won the British title in March with a ninth-round stoppage over Jordan McCorry in a bout that was streamed live on ESPN+.
Dennis “The Menace” McCann (4-0, 3 KOs), a 19-year-old bantamweight prodigy from Maidstone, England, will face Elvis Guillan (9-59-4, 6 KOs) in a scheduled six-rounder.