By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, a few sporting disciplines have returned to offer fans a welcome distraction. Unfortunately for fight fans in the Philippines, boxing has been put on ice.
A few Filipino boxers who were already in the United States before travel restrictions were tightened have gotten fights and the lone win that stands out was Mike Plania’s upset over erstwhile WBO number one bantamweight Joshua Greer in Las Vegas last June 16.
But for the reigning Filipino world champions, the wait for ring action has been really tough.
IBF junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2,22KO’s) has not defended since December, an easy fight against Chilean Miguel Gonzalez in Mexico.
This would have been a problem for most fighters but Ancajas’ manager Joven Jimenez said the champ is in shape.
“He has continued to train. In fact we cautioned him about overtraining.” Jimenez told this writer, “He even continues to spar.”
Jimenez is hoping visa restrictions will ease for them to travel to the United States by August. He thinks the defense against Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1,15KO’s) of Mexico will happen. Rodriguez was supposed to fight Ancajas last November.
Jimenez also mentioned Top Rank’s plan for a unification against WBA titleholder Joshua Franco (17-1-2,8KO’s) of the U.S. Franco beat Australian Andrew Moloney for the “regular” WBA world title belt last June 23 by unanimous decision in Las Vegas. The WBA “super” champion is Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez.
Ancajas has been quoted that he is even open to fighting former four division champion Donnie Nietes. Jimenez said he has not received any formal notice about it.Nietes has not fought since vacating the WBO junior bantamweight title in 2019 and has been inactive for almost nineteen months.
Other Filipino champions continuing their long anticipation are IBF world minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2-1,11KO’s), WBO bantamweight king John Riel Casimero (29-4,20KO’s) and WBA “super” world welterweight champ Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2,39KO’s).
Casimero is still in the U.S. but his unification with IBF/WBA champ Naoya Inoue of Japan is on hold. Casimero has not seen action since dethroning South African Zolani Tete last November in the U.K.
The 41 year old Pacquiao has not had a fight for almost a full year. He is also an incumbent Senator in the Philippines.
Taduran is the only Filipino world champion who made a defense in 2020. Last February, he fought Mexican Daniel Valladares to a technical draw in the challenger’s home turf.
It is also worth mentioning that one of the last fight cards held in the Philippines before contact sports was shut down was the World Boxing Foundation (WBF) minimumweight title fight between fellow Filipinos ArAr Andales and Rey Caitom. Andales (11-2,3KO’s) won by KO in round five to win the vacant title in Cebu City.
Photo- Joven Jimenez and Jerwin Ancajas (right)
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
News of the WBO world title fight between Filipino Giemel Magramo (24-1,20KO’s) and Junto Nakatani (20-0,15KO’s) of Japan came as ray of hope in an otherwise gloomy sports landscape in the Philippines. This fight is for the flyweight crown vacated by Japan’s Kosei Tanaka last February and was initially set for April 4 in Tokyo.
Magramo told this writer in a short chat last March that he was told he could be fighting on June 6 and he was continuing to train at the Elorde Gym. But, the dire situation worldwide caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues. Now,it seems the fight will take place in Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall on July 4.
Arrangements for the fight, as well as the safety protocols are among the concerns of Magramo’s manager Johnny Elorde, Japanese promoter Akihiko Honda, Games and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra ,WBO Asia Pacific chairman Leon Panoncillo,and Tsuyoshi Yasukochi of the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC).
Travelling to Japan will be a huge problem at this time but boxing stakeholders and fans hope things will get better come July.
WBO Vice President Panoncillo made this writer aware last Tuesday of the safety guidelines of the World Boxing Organization for sanction approval which include:
1.Only critical personnel for the staging of the event are allowed inside.
2.If fans are allowed, there should be one section row empty in between and one vacant seat in between fans in the occupied row.
3.Temperature checks, hand santizer sections, masks and avoidance of crowding.
4.Covid-19 testing for boxers, cornermen, and officials.
The entire set of guidelines is more detailed but it can be done.
Another WBO champion, John Riel Casimero (29-4,20KO’s)from the Philippines, (29-4,20KO’s) has also been waiting for the final date for the bantamweight unification bout against WBA/IBF champ Naoya Inoue (19-0,16KO’s) of Japan.
In a conversation with this writer three weeks ago, Casimero strongly stated that he does not want substitute Joshua Greer (22-1-1,12KO’s) of the United States, who is the top contender for his crown.
Casimero told this writer today that he trusts MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions chief Sean Gibbons will deliver the Inoue fight in July. Casimero is still in the United States continuing to wait and train.
Another Filipino world champ, Jerwin Ancajas,who holds the IBF junior bantamweight title, is also waiting for the month of July.
Ancajas (32-1-2,22KO’s) was supposed to defend his IBF world junior bantamweight title last April against Mexican Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1,15KO’s) in the U.S.
Ancajas’ manager Joven Jimenez told this writer today that Ancajas is staying in shape and could be defending his belt in July. Ancajas is in the Philippines and will need to travel to the U.S. before the fight can be set.
Here in the Philippines, local fighters are still waiting for plans to restart the boxing industry. These boxers are the sports equivalent of minimum wage earners. They have received government aid but it is still not enough if contact sports is not resumed soon.
Of course, the people in charge will have to weigh their decision to reopen. There is no price tag on a human life. But, the powers that be in the Philippines can learn from what the UFC and German football are doing; two major sports franchises that have resumed activities under strict testing and staging events behind closed doors.
As I have stated in a previous article, only a cure and a vaccine for Covid-19 will make things return to the way it used to be.
PHOTO- left to right – Giemel Magramo, John Riel Casimero, Jerwin Ancajas
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
For the past few days, there were reports that Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2,22KO’s) was told to prepare for a February title defense. The name of the boxer who stood him up last November, Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1,15KO’s), was once again mentioned as his next challenger. The Mexican Rodriguez was reported to have visa issues thus couldn’t make the trip to California. Ancajas fought in Mexico on December 7 against Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez and won by sixth round TKO.
With a February 22 date being floated, the next obvious story was that Ancajas will be on the undercard of the mega-rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas.
Ancajas’ trainer and manager Joven Jimenez told this writer in a short chat that they have received a message from Top Rank to get ready for a title defense. But the present plan is for an April defense for Ancajas. Jimenez also told this writer that they will be starting their training camp but they will be moving south of the Philippines to Dipolog City.
This would be a new training location for Ancajas. When he started his reign as IBF champion in 2016, his training ground, known as Survival Camp here in the Philippines, was based in Cavite. But they had to move to a Philippine Marine base last year to avoid all the distractions that came when Ancajas got more attention from the media and fans. The 28 year old southpaw is a reservist in the Philippine Navy and was promoted last year to reserve senior chief petty officer.
Ancajas had made eight successful defenses of his title. He does have a looming date against Israel Gonzalez of Mexico, who beat Japanese Sho Ishida by split decision in a fight held in Osaka last December 28. This gave Gonzalez the IBF mandatory challenger status in the 115 lb division. Two years ago, Gonzalez (25-3,11KO’s) lost to Ancajas by tenth round TKO in a fight held in Texas.
It will be interesting in the coming weeks if Ancajas does wind up defending against Rodriguez or a rematch against his number one contender Gonzalez.
File Photo - Joven Jimenez and Jerwin Ancajas (right)
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Filipino fight fans were trying their best to get live feeds over the weekend. Three Filipino boxers campaigned in big fights overseas, with two figuring in world title bouts.
Joe Noynay had his third straight fight in Japan last Saturday and was pitted against Japanese Kenichi Ogawa. Noynay was defending his WBO Asia Pacific junior lightweight title and his number seven world ranking. He knew there was a target on his back after back to back stoppage wins against Kosuke Saka and Satoshi Shimizu.
Ogawa, whose split decision victory against American Tevin Farmer in an IBF world title bout was invalidated due to a pre-fight drug test result, was out for redemption and to improve his number eleven WBO ranking.
But a hard clash of heads in the round three inflicted an ugly cut over Ogawa’s right eyebrow. Another accidental heabutt had the southpaw Noynay cut in round four. The fight was eventually stopped in round five with both boxers spilling blood.
The clashes of heads was not unusual for those who have seen southpaw vs orthodox match-ups before. But this was bloodier than usual.
Scores - 48-47 Noynay,49-46 Ogawa and 48-48. Noynay remained WBO regional champion due to the split technical draw but this was not the scintillating fight many had hoped.
Roughly twelve hours later in the other side of the world, southpaws Jerwin Ancajas and Marlon Tapales figured in separate world title bouts.
At the Barclay’s center in New York City, Tapales had trouble getting inside the long reach of Japanese Ryosuke Iwasa.
The vacant IBF interim junior featherweight title was at stake. Both former world titleholders knew their careers were on the line. Iwasa, also a southpaw, showed he was the better skilled boxer.
He fought off his jab and fired a quick left. A clash of heads in the third caused Tapales to be incorrectly counted by the referee. Tapales tried to open up past the halfway mark of the fight but he missed more than he landed. Iwasa knocked down a faded Tapales in the eleventh round. Tapales beat the count but the referee decided he was unfit to continue and signaled the end.
Iwasa once held the IBF belt in this same division. He improves to 27-3,17KO’s while Tapales, a former WBO bantamweight champion, suffered his third loss, 33-3,16KO’s.
Daniel Roman of the U.S., who is the IBF and WBA champion in the 122 lb. division, suffered a shoulder injury while training last September which lead to this interim title bout. Iwasa is now in a mandatory position for Roman’s IBF belt.
In Puebla, Mexico, Jerwin Ancajas made the eighth successful defense of his IBF world junior bantamweight title with a sixth round TKO win over Miguel Gonzalez. Ancajas proved to be too much for the Chilean challenger, who was getting his first world title shot.
Ancajas methodically chopped down his opponent and in a dominant sixth round, pounded Gonzalez mercilessly. This made the referee to correctly stop it at the 1:53 mark even with the hapless Gonzalez still on his feet.
Ancajas is now 32-1-2,22KO’s while Gonzalez drops to 31-3,8KO’s.
While Team Ancajas was celebrating in the dressing room, news of Tapales’ loss reached their camp.
Ancajas has reigned as world champion since September of 2016 but is still in search of a career defining fight preferably against the other reigning Superflyweight champions.
Photo – left to right – Joe Noynay, Marlon Tapales, Jerwin Ancajas
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
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.