By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
IBF world junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas made a successful return after a sixteen month layoff and turned back the spirited challenge from Mexican Jonathan Javier Rodriguez at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
It was a bruising encounter that went the distance. Ancajas, from Davao del Norte in the Philippines, showcased his boxing skills and shook the challenger early in the fight. But Rodriguez remained aggressive and kept the pressure. Rounds were highlighted by heavy exchanges to the body and head.
The boxers fought at a torrid pace, the defending champion’s accuracy seemed to give him a slight edge past the halfway mark. Ancajas cornered Rodriguez in the eighth round and accumulation of punches dropped the Mexican.
But Rodriguez remained true to his country’s warrior heritage. He survived and fought back and managed to keep things interesting in the late rounds. Ancajas was willing to stand in front of him and trade shot for shot. Ancajas’ cornerman, Joven Jimenez, had to egg him on going into the final canto.
After more brutal exchanges, they embraced after the final bell as a sign of mutual respect. The three judges scored for the Filipino champion – 115-112,116-111,117-110.
Ancajas is now 33-1-2,22KO’s while Rodriguez drops to 21-2,15KO’s.
This was the ninth defense of the title he won from Puerto Rico’s McJoe Arroyo in September 2016. The ongoing pandemic made Ancajas, as well as other Filipino boxers, endure long months of inactivity.
After winning the IBF title in the Philippines, Ancajas had all of his defenses overseas. Sadly, he is seemingly the odd man out in a talent rich 115 lb dvision that includes Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada (WBA/WBC), Nicaragua’s Roman Gonzalez, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Japan’s Kazuto Ioka (WBO).
Another Filipino, Mark Magsayo (22-0,15KO’s), fought on the undercard and remained unbeaten after decking Pablo Cruz (21-4,6KO’s) of Texas thrice in a one-sided affair. The referee mercifully stopped it in the fourth.
The featherweight Magsayo is ranked by all four major boxing bodies- WBO number 8,WBC number 5, IBF number 5 and WBA number 10.
File photo-Jerwin Ancajas during a visit to Beijing in 2017.
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