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.