Over the last few years the Super Flyweight division has been a must watch one. It's provided some amazing fights, such as the Srisaket Sor Rungvisai bouts against Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada and the compelling bouts between Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte, and Nietes against Kazuto Ioka. Whilst it has delivered some brilliant bouts two champions have been criticised for lacklustre competition and match ups. One of those is WBA champion Kal Yafai and the other IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20), from the Philippines.
Ancajas, who won his title back in September 2016, has scored 6 defenses of his title, fighting in 3 continents, but his last few defenses have failed to excite fans, some of whom have accused him of ducking real challenges, and avoiding the likes of Naoya Inoue. This weekend we'll see the Filipino seek his next defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai (31-7, 22), from Japan. For Funai this will be his first world title bout, whilst Ancajas will be facing his second Japanese challenger, following a 2017 win over Teiru Kinoshita, himself a mandatory challenger to Ancajas' throne.
When Ancajas first won his title, ripping it from the hands of McJoe Arroyo, he was a real unknown. The bout had an incredibly low purse and no TV backing at all. He quickly became one to watch and his performance against Kinoshita, on the under-card of Manny Pacquiao's bout with Jeff Horn, really did impress with Ancajas looking like an exciting, talented, smooth boxer puncher. The start of his reign did show some excitement and he did look like he had the tools to be a star, but a dull win over Israel Gonzalez and a stinking fight with Jonas Sultan took shine off his reign and a draw against Alejandro Santiago Barrios showed real flaws with his boxing, and it seemed like the short Barrios deserved the win.
At his best Ancajas is a gorgeous boxer to watch. Everything he does seems smooth, he gets in and out with ease and looks really easy on the eye. Despite the fact his nickname isn't based on his style, he does live up to the "Pretty Boy" moniker when boxing, and mixes smart defenses with good, clean punching. Sadly though it's been a while since we saw him at his best, and in recent bouts it's seemed like something is missing, potentially an issues caused by a struggle to make weight or by over-looking opponents. If he gets back to his best he should have no issues here, and he really is a top Super Flyweight, but another less than great performance could see him being dethroned.
Whilst Ancajas is well known, the came can't be said for Funai, who has never fought outside of Japan and has rarely even fought outside of Korakuen Hall, where he has fought 34 of his 38 bouts. Despite that he is well regarded in Japan and has mixed with some very good company, losing to the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka, Rolly Lunas and Sho Ishida, who between them make up 3 of Funai's 4 losses in the last 11 years. Having started his career 6-3 it's impressive to note that he has since gone 25-4 (19), whilst becoming a very solid fighter at Super Flyweight, which suits him more than Bantamweight where he fought much of his early career.
Although not a huge name Funai is a solid puncher, with his straight right hand being a very potent punch on the Japanese domestic scene, helping him stop 6 of his last 7 including Victor Emanuel Olivo, Warlito Parrenas and Shota Kawaguchi. Whilst his right hand is vicious it should be noted that he's not a busy fighter in the ring, he's not particularly quick and, especially against Olivo back in November, he's rather stationary on his feet. He's a smart counter puncher, but is certainly taking a huge step up in class here.
Ancajas was caught repeatedly by Barrios last time out, and whilst Barrios is certainly a trickier fighter than Funai that bout will have left Funai feeling confident. If Funai can land his right hand clean he certainly has the power to hurt Ancajas. That is a big if however. We're expecting to see a sharper Ancajas than we saw last time out, and if he stays switched on, uses his footwork well and tags the slower, clumsier Funai, on a regular basis, this should end up being a pretty clear win for the Filipino, but there is always a risk of him eating a big, Funai, right hand.
Prediction TKO10 Ancajas.
The Super Flyweight division is red hot right now with so many notable names, fantastic fighters and potentially brilliant match ups. The recent edition of “Superfly” may have been under-whelming but the division is red hot and the recent wins for both Kazuto Ioka and Roman Gonzalez have opened up the division even further. Sadly however there are several fighters who are competing with no intention of fighting on the “Superfly” cards. One of those is IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1, 20), who is signed up with Top Rank and being kept as a divisional side attraction by Bob Arum, who has kept him fighting on ESPN and kept him away from the top names at 115lbs.
This coming Friday Ancajas returned to the ring, to make his 6th defense of the title, and takes on a real divisional no-name in the form of Alejandro Santiago Barrios (16-2-4, 7). A 22 year old Mexican without a win of note and draws in his 3 most notable bouts. Not only is he a pretty unknown challenger but he is one without any experience over 12 rounds and has done next to nothing to deserve a title fight, at this moment in time.
The 26 year old champion might not be competing with the best in the division but he is one of the divisions top fighters, which is why his reign is so disappointing. He won the title back in September 2016, defeating the then unbeaten McJoe Arroyo, and has showed his silky skills whilst stopping the likes of Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Teiru Kinoshita and Jamie Conlan. Most recently he scored a decision win over mandatory challenger Jonas Sultan but failed to take the opportunity to shine, in the first All-Filipino world title bout in over 90 years.
Whilst his reign has been somewhat forgettable Ancajas has gone from a relative unknown outside of the Filipino domestic scene to someone who is regarded a top Super Flyweight and has been fighting on major TV over the few few fights. His win over Teiru Kinoshita put him on the map for many and since then his profile has grown well, which has doubled the frustration of fans. He's is one of the most aesthetically pleasing fighters in the sport, with very sharp shots, wonderful movement and electric combinations, but it often looks like he's facing opponents several levels blow himself. Those skills feel like they deserve to be tested against the very best in the division, guys like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and even Kal Yafai, another of the divisional outliers.
Santiago picked up boxing as a teenager and early in his career he rolled off an 8 fight unbeaten run against fellow novice Mexicans. His first step up in class saw him face the then 5-0-1 Hector Gabriel Flores, and lose a clear 6 round decision. His second loss would come just a couple of fights later, and since then he has gone on a role of sorts, running up an 11 fight unbeaten run. Sadly though that run has seen him score 8 wins over limited foes in Mexico and fight to 3 draws against somewhat notable names, all on the road. By it's self that sounds like he's been unfortunate but those draws have come against Antonio Nieves, who was toyed with by Naoya Inoue, and Jose Martinez, who's most notable victory has come against the under-sized and well past his best Juan Palacios.
Footage of Santiago shows him to be a pretty quick and crafty fighter. He uses half steps on the way out to create space to get his jab off and does move surprisingly well. Sadly on the front foot he does look like he carries very little power and doesn't really sit on his shots. Also he looks worryingly under-sized as well as under-powered. We'll be honest and say he probably should have had a win over Martinez, who he made look slow, sloppy and crude, but that shouldn't be enough to get him a world title fight at this level. He looks better than we'd expect, but no where near good enough to face off with the likes of Ancajas.
We're expecting to see Ancajas take the fight to Santiago, using his superior size, speed and skills to chip away at the Mexican and score a late stoppage. Santiago is stepping up massively and he's shown nothing to suggest he can hold his own at this level against someone as sharp and as accurate as Ancajas. Sadly Ancasjas has a reputation for dragging out his bouts, not putting his foot toe gad until his man has been broken mentally. That means we're expecting this to go in the later rounds before Ancajas ups the pace and looks to finish the show, rather than look to make a statement as early as he can.
The Super Flyweight division has gone from being one of the most over-looked divisions, only really enjoyed by the hardcore fight fans to being a division that is getting massive attention thanks to the growing “Superfly” series of cards, and the fact that right now we have top fighters in the division from around the globe. This weekend we get the chance to see some of the divisions best fighters in action in Fresno California, with WBA champion Kal Yafai (23-0, 14) defending his title against David Carmona (21-5-5, 9) and IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (29-1-1, 20) defending his title against Jonas Sultan (14-3, 9).
Of those two bouts it's the second one that particularly interests us as it will be the first all-Filipino world title bout in over 90 years, though the winners of the two bouts are expected to be on a collision towards unification later in the year.
Ancajas was one of the sports hidden gems until recently. The "Pretty boy" debuted back in 2009, as a 17 year old and went 13-0-1 before losing a razor thin decision to Mark Anthony Geraldo in early 2012. Since the Ancajas has gone 16-0 (15) and proven to be one of the best Super Flyweights on the planet. He's a joy to watch some wonderful boxing skills, fantastic sharpness, and a rare fluidity to everything he does. Not only is he a joy but he's an offensively minded combination punching southpaw, which makes him incredibly awkward to fight against.
The impressive 16 fight run of Ancajas has seen him move from relative unknown to being seen as one of the new faces of Filipino boxing. It began withg some pretty low key wins, but in 2016 he scored a major win over McJoe Arroyo to claim the IBF title. Since then his profile has mushroomed with 4 world title defenses, stopping Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in Macao, Teiru Kinoshita in Australia, Jamie Conlan in Northern Ireland and Israel Gonzalez in the US. Not only is he stopping his foes but he's looking sensational doing it, dropping his opponents and beating them up before stopping them.
Despite scoring a lot of stoppages recently Ancajas isn't actually a big puncher. He's someone who stops people through his sheer consistency. He lands a lot of shots, he finds holes in opponents defenses and uses his speed to befuddle good fighters, who are made to look really poor. His power won't effect someone like Juan Francisco Estrada or Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on a 1-punch basis, but those shots do damage over the course of a fight, and against even the very elite in the division Ancajas has a genuine shot.
Sultan, like Ancajas in may ways, was totally unknown not too long ago. He started his career in 2013, and was 4-2 (2) after 6 bouts but has since gone 10-1 (7) and made himself one of the divisions key contenders, and the IBF mandatory title challenger. In in his recent wins are victories over some really good fighters, such as Jerson Mancio, Brian Lobetania, Rene Dacquel, Tatsuay Ikemizu, Makazole Tete, Sonny Boy Jaro and John Riel Casimero. In those wins he has shown he can box, punch and take a shot when he needs to.
Although he has looked really good at times, there is still a lot for Sultan to prove and his win over Casimero left as many questions as answers, and was a very messy fight. He certainly a lot going for him here, and his only recent loss was much closer than the cards suggested. He has shown power and speed, and at 26 is coming into his physical prime.
Although going through a rich vein of form this is a big step up for Sultan. Wins over former world champions like Jaro and Casimero are impressive but Jaro was old and Casimero was a naturally smaller man. His wins over Tete and Dacquel are brilliant wins, but they are both a long way off being as good as Ancajas. In fact the champion has more to his arsenal than Tete and Dacquel combined and that will be a major issue for Sultan here.
We think this opportunity has come a little too early for Sultan. We're not sure he will ever be as good as Ancajas, but he probably needed to face another prime contender before getting a world title fight to really be prepared for a fight at that level. We suspect that Ancajas' smoothness in the ring, his speed and movement and ring IQ will be too much for the challenger. Sultan will certainly have some moments, but we suspect he'll be worn down and either stopped late or lose a wide and clear decision.
Last year we saw a number of lesser known fighters increase their profile with a number of impressive performances. One of those was Filipino Jerwin Ancajas (28-1-1, 19), who went 3-0 (3) for the year, defending the IBF Super Flyweight title in all 3 of those bouts and scoring wins in Macao, Australia and Northern Ireland. He looks to kick off his 2018 with his 4th world title defense, as he takes on once beaten Mexican challenger Israel Gonzalez (21-1, 8).
The Super Flyweight division is, arguably, the most interesting in the sport today with a number of excellent fighters. Sadly the division has got political issues, and Ancajas signing with Top Rank in 2017 has locked him out of facing a number of top fighters and showcasing his abilities against the best. Those abilities are, however, exceptional and the Filipino is a real joy to watch.
Dubbed the “Pretty Boy” Ancajas is a photogenic fighter who is a wonderfully pure boxer. He fights from the southpaw stance, sets the pace of the fight and controls the distance with smart footwork and very accurate straight shots. On the inside he throws beautiful shots, especially to the body, and defensively he's smart and quick. His speed is one of his key strengths, with his hands and feet both being incredibly fast, and there is a wonderful smoothness to his boxing.
One of the problems is Ancajas is the fact he's not a big puncher. Despite not being a big puncher he has gone 15-0 (14) since his sole loss, a majority decision to Mark Anthony Geraldo back in March 2012. What's impressive about Ancajas is that everyone of his shots stings, and takes a toll, rather than concusses an opponent. He breaks down opponents with a steady steam of shots and they are can hurt to either the head or body.
During his 30 fight career Ancajas has scored notable wins over the likes of Inthanon Sithchamuang, McJoe Arroyo, who he beat for the title, Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Teiru Kinoshita and Jamie Conlan. From those only Arroyo lasted the distance.
Mexican fighter Gonzalez has been a professional for just over 3 years, and has been a very busy fighter since his November 2014 debut. Just 13 months after his debut he fought in his first title fight, claiming the interim WBC FECOMBOX Super Flyweight Title with a win over Francisco Reyes. Amazingly that was Gonzalez's 13th bout in as many months. In mid 2016 he suffered his first, and so far only, loss, as he came up short against Argi Cortes. Back to back stoppages over former world title challenger Mauricio Fuentes followed, along with a win over a very shop warn Ramon Garcia Hirales. Those wins are the most notable on Gonzalez's record, and since then he has scored 5 low key wins.
Despite being so busy there is little quality footage of Gonzalez available. What is available shows an aggressive pressure fight with a nice snappy jab and nice head movement. Sadly for him though there is a real lack of power and so little footage is available to know anything about how he copes with pressure and what he's like on the inside. The footage, which is quite old, shows a slappy fighter who really doesn't get his weight or body behind his shots and whilst he could have improved it would take a huge amount of development to prepare him for someone like Ancajas.
On Saturday, when the two men get in the ring, we're expecting a real show case from Ancajas. We're expecting the champion to set the distance and pace from the off, and beak down the challenger in 6 or so rounds. Gonzalez' toughness is unknown, but we know how good Ancajas is and how accurate he is, with Gonzalez unlikely to be able to take the fire power from Ancajas for long.
Right now there are a number of divisions which standout as being much more talent laden and exciting than others. One of those is the Cruiserweight division, where the World Boxing Super Series is helping the division really stand out. Another is the Super Flyweight division, which has gotten attention thanks to the number of top fighters, the repeatedly exciting contests the division is giving us, and the recent showcases from HBO.
This coming weekend we get the chance to see one of the divisions “hidden gems” taking on one of boxing's human highlight reels in what should be a very fan friendly contest for the IBF world title.
In one corner will be defending champion Jerwin Ancajas (27-1-1, 18), the least well known and famous of the reigning world champions at 115lbs, and in the other corner will be Jamie Conlan (19-0, 11), a Northern Irishman who has been in FOTY contender fights in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The once beaten Filipino has been an under-the-radar gem of Filipino boxing in recent years. In 2016 he scored what should have been a break out win over McJoe Arroyo, though Filipino TV failed to show the bout, with Ancajas winning the IBF title with a decision over the Puerto Rican. He made his first defense this past January, stopping Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in China before travelling to Australia to stop Teiru Kinoshita on the under-card of Manny Pacquiao's loss to Jeff Horn. The win over Kinoshita saw Ancajas put himself in the limelight, though sadly many fans have seemingly forgotten his performance to instead focus on decision of the Pacquiao Vs Horn bout.
Those who remember Ancajas' win over Kinoshita, or have seen his other bouts, will be familiar with Ancajas having one of the sports most eye pleasing style. He's a wonderful fluid boxer, with gorgeous combinations, movement and fluid boxing. He's not the power puncher that fellow champions Naoya Inoue and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai are, but he is a really wonderful boxer, with enough power to stop foes, and the skills to dazzle. Not only does he have skills, but he also has an aggressive mentality, and will look to shine whilst beating opponents down mentally, rather than just take decision in a dull affair.
Whilst Ancajas has been a hidden gem with talent that should have made him a star Conlan has become a must watch fighter, despite being a fundamentally limited fighter. He isn't known for his skills, or his power, but his heart, styles and heart in your mouth action fights. These have included a sensation decision win over Junior Granados in 2015, an amazing up-and-down slug fest with Anthony Nelson in 2016 and a thrilling split decision win over Yader Cardoza this past March. He has been down in all 3 of those aforementioned bouts, multiple times in some of them, but has dug deep to win in fan friendly style.
Although a must watch fighter Conlan has taken a lot of punishment, especially for a man with just 19 fights and a combined 109 rounds under his belt. His style is one where he is defensively naive, and although it hasn't cost him his unbeaten record, yet, he has been fighting well below world class. This is a monster step up from borderline top 25 fighters, like Cardoza, to world class, like Ancajas, and that sort of step up is one that is very tough to make.
We can see Conlan have some moments, his toughness and heart will get him some moments, but they will be few and far between. Instead we suspect Ancajas will be too sharp, too accurate and simply too good. The Filipino will find the holes in Conlan's defense, and will target them at will. Unlike Conlan's previous opponents Ancajas won't let the gutsy challenger off the hook, and will instead finish off his man in the mid-to-later rounds, in what will hopefully set up Ancajas for a huge fight in 2018.
Recently we saw Tom Loeffler announce a September 9th card dubbed “Superfly”, a number of the top Super Flyweights, such as Naoya Inoue, Roman Gonalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada. The card is being sold as featuring 5 of the top Super Flyweights but several other top fighters in the division are missing out on that show, such as IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (26-1-1, 17). Although Ancajas isn't on the September card he is going to be in action this coming weekend defending his title in a mandatory defense against Japanese challenger Teiru Kinoshita (25-1-1, 8) [位帝里 木下].
For Ancajas the bout will be his second defense, following his upset title win last year against a very lack lustre McJoe Arroyo Kinoshita will be getting his second shot a world title, after having come up short against Zolani Tete around 3 years ago. For both fighters it will be a huge chance to show case themselves on a massive stage, where they will act as the supporting bout for Manny Pacquiao Vs Jeff Horn.
Of the two men the more proven is Ancajas, a talented Filipino dubbed the “Pretty boy”. Aged 25 he's another of the youngsters really making his name at 115lbs, and although a lot less well known than the fighters on “Superfly” he certainly has the skills to make a real mark in the division. He's a razor sharp southpaw who has gorgeous boxing skills, nasty stinging punches and lovely speed in both his feet and hands. He's not as destructive as Inoue, Gonzalez or Srisaket but he has impressively stopped 12 of his last 13 including Inthanon Sithchamuang and Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, and has shown his skills in Macao as well as the Philippines.
The one loss on Ancajas' record came way back in 2012 when he lost a razor thin decision to fellow Filipino Mark Anthony Geraldo. At the time he was just 20 years old and has clearly developed since then, showing real improvement in every part of his game and looking like a genuine natural in the ring. He stepped up against Arroyo and although he didn't dominate from start to finish he was the clear winner, and dropped the Puerto Rican, since then he has been waiting for a chance to really prove himself, and he'll know that this bout is a huge chance to do that.
Aged 31 Kinoshita is one of the more obscure title challengers, and one of the lesser well known Japanese fighters of note at Super Flyweight. The Southpaw is a former Japanese national champion, who held that title from 2012 when he beat Go Onaga to 2014 when he vacated to battle Tete for the then vacant IBF crown. Against Tete we saw a very poor Kinoshita look clueless, he was out boxed and out jabbed by the South African and struggled to claim even 2 rounds against Tete, though did manage to go the distance with him. Since that loss he has gone 6-0 (5) though hasn't really done anywhere near enough to deserve a second title fight, getting this by default as Arroyo failed to fight him in an eliminator.
It's worth noting that the one recent decision that Kinoshita won was a very controversial one against countryman Cyborg Nawatedani, in a bout that seemed like a clear win for Nawatedani who out worked and out landed Kinoshita through out. That result was so bad that the Japanese press criticised it, and we've actually not see Nawatedani fight since.
In the ring Kinoshita is a decent boxer, but nothing really stands out about him being anything special. He has a good engine, but not a spectacular one, he's shown his toughness with his guts being tested by Nawatedani, but really it was his skills and speed that helped him have success at domestic level. His recent stoppages have boosted his KO ratio significantly, from 3 KO's in his first 21 wins to 8 in 27 bouts, but they say more about his recent competition than anything else.
Whilst the bout looks good on paper, and significantly more well matched than Pacquiao Vs Horn, it's hard to imagine this being anything more than a show case win for Ancajas, with the actual result being dependent on just how tough Kinoshita is, and how much of a statement the Filipino wants to make. It may be that Kinoshita sees out the distance but we suspect Ancajas will take him out, likely in the middle rounds.
Last year we saw little known Filipino Jerwin Ancajas (25-1-1, 16) score one of the most under-rated wins of the year, as he upset McJoe Arroyo and claimed the IBF Super Flyweight title. The Filipino southpaw took a huge gamble going into the bout, and took one of the smallest pay days for a world title fight in recent memories, taking home a purse of less than $4,000 but now looks to capitalise on his title and will be making his first defense this coming Sunday in Macau. In the opposite corner will be former WBA “interim” Light Flyweight champion Jose Alfredo Rodriguez (32-4, 19).
Going into his bout with Arroyo very few outside of Asian boxing circles knew who Ancajas was. As a result he was the under-dog against Arroyo, and crafty fans managed to get 2/1 on the Filipino. Against the Puerto Rican we saw Ancajas put on an excellent showing, starting slowly, figuring out Arroyo and then going on to dominate swathes of the bout whilst dropping Arroyo to claim the title, and make the then unbeaten Arroyo look incredibly poor.
Whilst there was some question marks over Arroyo's hunger for the bout, with the fighter making it clear he didn't want to fight in the Phillipines, we can't fault Ancajas who did what he had to do to make an unbeaten champion look like a very poor contender. That win for Ancajas was his 12th in a row and although there wasn't many notable wins among that run he had scored a quick win over Inthanon Sithchamuang.
In the ring Ancajas is a very exciting fighter. He's fast, heavy handed, explosive but also a capable boxer with under-rated skills and frighteningly good combinations. On paper he's the “low hanging fruit” in the packed Super Flyweight division but is a real nightmare given his southpaw stance and his explosive style, as well as the fact he's relatively tall for the weight at 5'6. He's not on the same level as Roman Gonzalez or Naoya Inoue, but he will be a very hard guy to beat.
In Rodriguez we have a fighter who started his career with a great run before his career stumbled massively, and he's now looking to re-emerge as a world class fighter. He won his first 28 bouts by the age of 22, and scored wins against fighters like Sho Nakazawa and Nethra Sasiprapa, with the win over Nethra netting him the WBA interim title. Rodriguez would lose that title in his first defense, coming up short against Alberto Rossel, and the would lose 3 of his next 4 bouts, including losses to Kazuto Ioka and Milan Melindo.
Having fallen from 28-0 (17) to 29-4 (18) Rodriguez took time away from the ring and ended up spending almost 2 years on the sidelines. Since then he has returned and scored a trio of low profile wins to get himself some career momentum. Those wins have helped the 26 year old Sinaloa based fighter a world ranking, and this coming world title fight.
Through much of his career Rodriguez has looked like a fringe world class fighter. He's not exceptional fighter but he was certainly a very capable one a few years ago. He was tough and brave and and has respectable power. He was however flawed with defensive holes and a relatively basic style. In the bout with Ioka Rodriguez proved his toughness getting up from a knockdown in the opening round but was broken down from Ioka's consistent attack in round 6. That however is his sole stoppage defeat and he does appear to have a good chin.
Despite being a decent fighter Rodriguez looks a bit “made to order” for Ancajas to look good against. The Mexican is tough enough to take a beating and basic enough for Ancajas to shine against in his first defense. Having seen how Ioka broke Rodriguez with straight shots we suspect Ancajas will do something very similar and stop the Mexican in the middle rounds, whilst looking brilliant through out the fight and opening up potential bouts with other notable names in the Super Flyweight division.
Notably this will be Ancajas's third fight in Macao, and 5th in Chinese controlled land following two bouts on he Chinese mainland.
This coming month is a really busy one with dozens of interesting bouts all around the globe on an almost daily basis. The first of those takes place on September 3rd and sees exciting Filipino Jerwin Ancajas (24-1-1, 16) getting his first world title fight, as he finally gets in the ring with IBF Super Flyweight champion McJoe Arroyo (17-0, 8).
We say “finally” as this bout was first arranged much, much earlier this year, before Arroyo was forced out of the contest due to an injury, an injury that was only made public about a week before the bout. Despite the wait we're expecting to see both men showing serious hunger and the intent on proving their ability and opening the avenues for some big money title defenses in the near future.
Of the two men the one better known internationally is 31 year old Arroyo, the twin brother of recent Roman Gonzalez opponent McWilliams Arroyo. The Puerto Rican champion was a former standout amateur who has slowly carved out a good career, but that feels relatively under-whelming given his amateur pedigree.
Arroyo turned professional in 2010 and after running up 10 straight wins over limited opponents he stepped and stopped veteran Jose Lopez. Since that win he has gone 6-0 (2) securing solid wins over Hernan Marquez, Mark Anthony Geraldo and, most recently, Arthur Vilanueva. The win over Villanueva saw Arroyo claim the IBF title, but impress nobody winning a pretty poor decision in a fight that was marred bar head clashes and styles that simply didn't gel. Despite that bout failing to set the world alight Arroyo is a talent and his dominant win over Marquez showed that.
In the ring Arroyo, at his best, is a very accurate, well schooled, all-rounder. He doesn't have lights out power or lightening speed but he is a very smart boxer with respectable power, solid speed and excellent timing. He's a thinking boxer and a good one at that. Notably however he hasn't fought in over a year, since the win over Villanueva, and that may hurt his timing coming in to this bout. If his timing is off it will take time for him get up to speed hare against a fast and explosive opponent.
If there is a word that fits Ancajas, to a T, is explosive. He's fast, he's accurate, exciting and hard hitting, as well as being a southpaw. There is however question marks regarding whether his power will hold up at world level and whether he'll be able to fight his usual style against a world class opponent, or whether he will have to tighten up and be less fan friendly.
Aged 24 the Filipino “Pretty Boy” is currently riding an 11 fight stoppage run, following his only loss. That loss, to Mark Anthony Geraldo, was a razor close one and seems to have really helped Ancajas develop into a fighter with more killer instinct. Whilst Geraldo is the best opponent Ancajas has fought he has come a long way since that loss, that occurred more than 4 years ago when both fighters were just 20. Although he has come a long way he still lacks a genuine stand out win, but could change that here.
With home advantage and a hunger to prove himself this is a huge opportunity for Ancajas to add his name to the mix at 115lbs. He's the under-dog but a live one and one who knows he's got everything to gain, including revenge for Arroyo's wins over Villanueva and Geraldo.
Given recent performances by Filipino fighters like, like Marlon Tapales in Thailand, Jonriel Casimero in China and Rene Dacquel in Japan there is some real momentum in the countries boxing scene, buoyed further by Manny Pacquiao's imminent ring return. Given that momentum we suspect Ancajas will over-come his more established foe here.
Last weekend we saw the probable end in the historic career of Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao. The fighter-turned-politician has been the dominant force in Filipino boxing for more than a last decade, scoring wins over the likes of Chatchai Sasakul, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Timothy Bradley.
Pacquiao's retirement will leave a sizeable hole in Filipino boxing, however there are a lot of fighters coming through the ranks each looking to fill, at least a part of that hole.
One of those is the really exciting Jerwin Ancajas (24-1-1, 16) who gets his biggest fight this coming weekend, as the “Pretty Boy” faces IBF Super Flyweight champion McJoe Arroyo (17-0, 8), an unbeaten Puerto Rican.
Ancajas has been one of the many Filipino fighters who has generally been going under-the-radar in recent years. The talented Filipino isn't a name many international fans will recognise, and may never have seen, but he has been showcased on a few of Top Rank's cards in Macau where he has shown some very genuine ability to be a star.
The youngster combines good looks with incredible speed, unerring accuracy, blistering combinations, spiteful power, a southpaw stance and at 24 years old he also has youthful energy the ring. Notably he is some 4 years removed from his sole loss, a close decision to Mark Anthony Geraldo, since then he has improved drastically and run up a perfect 11-0 (11) record.
For Arroyo the fight will be his first defence of the title he won last Summer, when he took a very controversial technical decision over Arthur Villanueva. That bout saw Arroyo show glimpses of real ability early in the contest, before becoming tired or lazy and doing very little after round 5. That laziness was surprising given that Arroyo had shown good ability to fight through the later rounds in wins over Mark Anthony Geraldo, a 12 round decision win, and Hernan Marquez, an 11th round TKO win.
At his best Arroyo is a very talented boxer, with under-rated power, a tricky southpaw stance with very good patience, a great understanding of distance and timing and an impressive boxing mind. The laziness however is an issue, there question marks, now at least, about his stamina and mental capacity for the sport and he has been dropped in the past, by Jairo Hernandez. In fact some ringside observers suggested that Hernandez did enough to at least deserve a draw.
On paper it's easy to favour the unbeaten champion. He has the most notable wins, he's unbeaten, he's the champion and he's the man with the outstanding amateur pedigree. He did however look very flawed in his title win, despite the official scores, and he will be going away from home for this bout, fighting in Asia for the first time. For Ancajas the opportunity of shocking the world and becoming one of the new faces of the Filipino boxing scene will be a huge incentive to put on the performance of a life time.
We know he's the under-dog, but we can't help but think Ancajas's speed, energy and combinations, as well as home advantage, will see him through to a win here against a talented but flawed champion
One of the best title fights for us this month comes from the US as we get a really mouth watering IBF Super Flyweight title bout between two unbeaten men looking to claim their first world title and pick up the belt recently vacated by the talented but enigmatic Zolani Tete. For those unaware, Tete vacated the title due to a dispute over money for a scheduled with one of the two men now trying to claim his former belt.
Originally Tete was supposed to fight Puerto Rican fighter McJoe Arroyo (16-0, 8). Arroyo isn't just unbeaten but is in sensational form recently, scoring dominant wins over Hernan Marquez and Mark Anthony Geraldo. Whilst a bout between Arroyo and Tete looked brilliant Tete's refusal to take part in the bout has left an equally good looking bout with Arroyo now facing unbeaten Filipino Arthur Villanueva (27-0, 14).
Whilst both men would likely have liked to have beaten a “recognised” champion to claim a title it's fair to say that neither will complain about being matched with another unbeaten and highly regarded top contender.
Of the two men the one that we're most concerned with is the Filipino fighter, who has been in and around the rankings for several years whilst awaiting an eventual world title bout. That opportunity has seen Villanueva wait, though he has been able to pick up some invaluable experience and ring time against a variety of foes.
Villanueva first came to the attention of many Filipino fans back in 2010 when he claimed the GAB Flyweight title with a stoppage of Brix Ray. The following year Villanueva recorded his first defense of the title and also scored a notable win over the the then rising Mark Anthony Geraldo. Things went from strength to strength and by the end of 2012 Villanueva had claimed the OPBF Super Flyweight title with a win over Taiki Eto, whilst also scoring notable wins over Rey Megrino and Pramuansak Posuwan.
Despite having a break out run between 2010 and 2013 Villanueva failed to capitalise, despite scoring another excellent win in early 2013 over the then unbeaten Marco Demecillo. Sadly the failure to make good on his success saw 2014 become a very frustrating year with incredibly close wins over Fernando Aguilar and Henry Maldonado, though he did end the year with an excellent win over former world champion Julio Cesar Miranda.
As a boxer Villanueva can be very patient and smart. He can play the matador role really well. Unfortunately however he can also over-look his opponents, as he did with Aguilar and Maldonado. When he does that it really does leave us wondering just how credible he can be as a genuine title contender. If on form and up for the bout Villanueva is a handful for almost anyone else in the division, if he's over-looked an opponent however he's an accident waiting to happen.
Whilst the 26 year old Villanueva has taken his time since turning professional back in 2008 he has developed a lot with his 27 fights, and 178 rounds.
As for Arroyo the 29 year old Puerto Rican was tipped for success ever since his days as an amateur. It was in the unpaid ranks that Arroyo competed at the top level and even claimed the bronze medal, at the 2007 World Amateur Championships.
In 2010 the Puerto Rican turned to the professional ranks to little fan fare. After 10 bouts he had really failed to even register on the scene with no wins of note. In the last 3 years however he has really began to impress, with several wins of note. The first of those came in September 2012 when he stopped former world champion Jose Lopez in 4 rounds. More recently he's scored an excellent 11th round TKO victory against Hernan Marquez and a very wide decision win over Mark Anthony Geraldo.
At his best Arroyo is a very good boxer-puncher who fights from the southpaw stance. He's perhaps not the biggest hitter and fastest fighter in the division but he is very capable and knows when to be patient and when to force the issue. Among his best tools is his jab, which is sharp and heavy, and his his boxing brain which is very on point as he sees openings very quickly.
Although talented Arroyo has been dropped, and run very close, by Jairo Hernandez. That is the sole black mark against him so far, though he did gut it out and win the bout. It's also notable however that his face did appear to swell slightly against Marquez, despite Marquez really struggling to get any notable success, this may be more of an issue against an opponent who can tag him.
On paper this promises to be an intriguing contest between two talented and hungry fighters. Sadly for Villanueva he appears to have more faults that Arroyo. It's fair to say that at their best both look like future champions however, from what we've seen, Arroyo is the more complete fighter that the moment and he's less likely to fall to sleep, unlike the Filipino. With that said we don't imagine either fighter has the power to stop the other but we're expecting to see a clear win for Arroyo.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.