By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
IBF world junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2,21KO’s) of the Philippines is three weeks away from facing Miguel Gonzalez (31-2,8KO’s) of Chile at the Auditorio GNP Seguros in Puebla, Mexico.
The 27 year old Filipino southpaw was supposed to defend his title against Jonathan Javier Rodriguez in California on November 2 but the fight was cancelled with visa issues for the Mexican cited as the main cause.
Ancajas vs. Gonzalez will be the main undercard of the Emmanuel Navarrete-Francisco Horta WBO junior featherweight title bout set on December 7.
Ancajas has reigned as world champion since September of 2016 when he beat Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo by unanimous decision in Taguig City, Metro Manila. He has seven successful defenses under his belt, the last one was a one-sided thrashing of Japanese Ryuichi Funai in Stockton, California last May.
Chief trainer and manager Joven Jimenez told this writer in a short chat that Ancajas’ conditioning has not been affected by the change in fight date.
“His conditioning is even better now,” Jimenez stated. Ancajas chose to stay in the U.S. after the date of his defense was changed instead of returning to the Philippines.
“Jerwin remains focused. I don’t really know the reason why his opponent was changed, but I have seen Gonzalez’s fighting style, it is similar to Rodriguez so it won’t be a problem.” Jimenez added.
Gonzalez is a 30 year old right handed fighter who has an almost four year reign as the WBA Fedelatin titleholder. The October rankings of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) has Gonzalez ranked at number 14. His ring moniker ‘Aguja’ means needle.
Familiar names on Gonzalez’s resume include Argentine Luis Alberto Lazarte, who he beat by unanimous decision for the WBA regional belt in 2015. Lazarte is known to Filipino fight fans for the infamous fight against John Riel Casimero in 2012. That fight for the vacant IBF light flyweight belt ended in a tenth round TKO win for the Filipino but the Argentine fans in Mar de Plata started an ugly ring riot and assaulted Casimero and his trainer and promoter.
Gonzalez has lost to Australian Andrew Moloney, who now has the WBA interim super flyweight title and to Paul Butler of the U.K., who twice came up short in two bids for an IBF world crown.
Ancajas has been calling out the other superflyweight world champions especially Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada, who has the WBC belt and is widely considered to be the division’s top dog. This will be the first time that Ancajas will fight in Estrada’s home country.
The other recognized champions are Khalid Yafai of the U.K.,who holds the WBA title and Japanese Kazuto Ioka has the WBO crown.
Photo of Jerwin Ancajas jogging in the U.S. c/o Joven Jimenez
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
IBF world junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2,21KO’s) has arrived in the United States for his November 2 title defense against Mexican Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1,15KO’s).
The Filipino southpaw will make the eighth defense of his title in Carson, California. The September rankings of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) has Rodriguez ranked only at number 14 but there is interest in this fight simply because of Rodriguez’s last fight in June when his opponent, fellow Mexican Felipe Orucuta, collapsed in the ring after the fight was stopped in the tenth round. Orucuta had emergency brain surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. Six weeks later, Orocuta was reported to be awake and showing signs of neurological improvement. This will be Rodriguez’s first shot at a world crown.
Chief trainer and manager Joven Jimenez told this writer in a short chat that Ancajas is ready and they are on target with his weight. He trained in relative isolation for more than three months in a Philippine Navy facility in San Antonio, Zambales
“We trained for the full twelve rounds,” Jimenez told this writer, “But if the opportunity comes, we will go for the knockout.”
Ancajas’ last defense in May was a one-sided demolition of Japanese Ryuichi Funai in Stockton, California.
Not to look past Rodriguez, the 27 year old Ancajas is in search of a career defining superfight. There has been a lot of interest in the 115lb division for the past two years due to the ‘Superfly’ fight cards. But Ancajas, just like his countryman Donnie Nietes, has been outside looking in.
The other organizations have fine champions, the WBA has Khalid Yafai of the U.K., Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada has the WBC belt and is widely considered to be the division’s top dog and Japanese Kazuto Ioka has the WBO crown after Nietes gave up the title early this year.
Ancajas travelled to Thailand in October of last year hoping for a showdown against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who was then the biggest name in the division. But Estrada beat Sor Rungvisai (Wisaksil Wangek) by unanimous decision in their rematch last April.
There has been a lot of speculation as to who Ancajas should fight next. Securing a big fight is another story.
Top photo of Jerwin Ancajas on his arrival in the U.S. c/o Joven Jimenez
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Jerwin Ancajas successfully defended his IBF junior bantamweight title in Stockton, California for the seventh time against Japanese challenger Ryuichi Funai. Ancajas did what was expected. He was a 7-1 betting favorite going into the fight. The Filipino southpaw also needed to bounce back after a lackluster draw against Mexican Alejandro Santiago Barrios last September.
Ancajas in his pre-fight TV interview said that he trained in seclusion in a camp of the Philippine Marines to escape from all the distractions that hounded him in his recent title defenses. This was quite fitting considering that he won his title in 2016 in a fight held inside a Marine and Naval base in Taguig City, Metro Manila against Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo. Ancajas also formally enlisted in the Philippine Navy reserves last year.
The 27 year old Ancajas rocked Funai in the fourth round. The hail of heavy hooks was enough to cause concern for the ring doctor who checked on Funai at the end of the round. To Funai’s credit he stayed on his feet but the punishment was too much and at the start of the seventh round, the ring doctor recommended to the referee, Edward Collantes of the U.S., that the Japanese has had enough.
This was the 33 year old Funai’s US debut and first world title attempt. He drops to 31-8,22KO’s while Ancajas moves up to 31-1-2,21KO’s.
This performance would have been good enough for Filipino fight fans two decades ago. But Filipinos got spoiled by the unprecedented success of Manny Pacquiao. Now, they demand more from their champions.
With this victory, the question now is will Ancajas get a fight against the other champions or big names in the division?
Another Filipino, Donnie Nietes, who gave up his WBO junior bantamweight crown a few months ago, is also seeking a big money fight with any of the division’s elite.
The Superfly fight cards started in 2017 in California and it brought out the likes of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (Wisaksil Wangek) of Thailand, Roman Gonzalez of Nicaragua, Naoya Inoue of Japan and Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico.
Nietes, even when he fought in the second Superfly card in 2018, seemed to have missed his chance to face any of aforementioned three fighters. Inoue would move up to bantamweight. Gonzalez lost to Sor Rungvisai twice and lost his luster in the process. Nietes had to endure a controversial draw against countryman Aston Palicte when they fought for the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title in Superfly 3.
Ancajas travelled to Thailand in October of last year hoping for a showdown against Sor Rungvisai. But with Estrada getting a revenge unanimous decision win over the Sor Rungvisai last month, the Mexican is now the top dog in the 115 lb division.
Last New Year’s Eve in Macao, Nietes faced his most accomplished opponent in the person of Japanese Kazuto Ioka. Both were veteran three division champions. It was a tight back and forth contest but Nietes’ smarts and ability to make in-fight adjustments got him the split decision victory and the WBO junior bantamweight crown.
This win enabled Nietes to join Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire as the only three Filipino champions to win four or more division titles. Nietes has fought at the world championship level since 2007. He holds the record for being the longest reigning Filipino world champion. Nietes broke the seven year record of the great Flash Elorde when he was a WBO light flyweight champion, his second division belt. For the record, Elorde reigned in only one division, junior lightweight, and was an undisputed champion.
Nietes gave up his WBO title in search of a bigger, career-defining fight. This June, Ioka and Palicte will be fighting for that belt in Chiba City, Japan.
Nietes (42-1-5,23KO’s) will turn 37 this May 13. He has yet to make an announcement as to who he will fight next. In casual conversations, Filipino boxing pundits are wondering if giving up the WBO belt was actually the right move. Now, that he has no belt to offer, the other champs who want unification are not calling him out.
Moving up to bantamweight is a future option for Ancajas but maybe not for Nietes, who would be too small for 118lbs. Time is also not on the side of Nietes. But even if he retires at this point in time, Nietes will be remembered as one of the best boxers produced by the Philippines.
Aside from WBC champ Estrada and ex-champ Sor Rungvisai, the other belt-holder option at 115lbs is Khalid Yafai of the U.K., who has the WBA title. The winner of Ioka-Palicte will be added to this fan-friendly mix.
Photo- Jerwin Ancajas (Left) and Donnie Nietes
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