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.