This coming Saturday we'll see IBF Super Flyweight champion Fernando Daniel Martinez (14-0, 8) look make his first defense, as he faces the man he beat for the title earlier this year, Filipino "Pretty Boy" Jerwin Ancajas (33-2-2, 22). The two men, who clashed in February, are having an immediate rematch which given the nature of their first bout feels wholly unnecessary, but does give Ancajas a chance to reclaim the title that he had held from September 2016 to February 2022, and recorded 9 defenses, the most anyone has defended that title in a single reign. As for Martinez the bout serves as a chance to prove he isn't a flash in the pan, and didn't just get Ancajas on a bad night, but is instead the better fighter.
Of the two men the more well known is Ancajas. The talented Filipino, one of the nicest boxers to watch, is a 30 year old who was a top Filipino amateur before turning professional in 2009, at the age of 17. He began his career in relative obscurity and was 24-1-1 when he landed a mandatory title shot at IBF world champion McJoe Arroyo. The bout was expected to see Arroyo retain his title but instead Ancajas controlled the bout to score a notable upset, at least at the time, to dethrone the much touted Arroyo. Notably since that loss Arroyo never really re-captured any form, going 1-3 in his following 4 bouts. Following that title win Ancajas would later link up with Top Rank, who did a great job in building his following in the West, but a failure to land major fights with the top fighters at 115lbs long harmed his reign, despite racking up 9 defenses. He missed out, for one reason or another, on clashes with the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Juan Francisco Estrada, Carlos Cuadras, Naoya Inoue and Kazuto Ioka, and the failure to defend his title against that top tier opposition will always haunt his legacy. After ending his deal with Top Rank Ancajas joined PBC, and hasn't quite looked the same, with matches on PBC coming against fighters who's style was incredibly troublesome for Anacjas.
In the ring Ancajas really is a pretty boy. He's a wonderfully smooth, polished boxer, with impressive hand speed, good movement, good boxing IQ and solid, though not concussive, power. He's big and strong at 115lbs, and there has long been talk of him moving up, but he can be bullied and he's never been a fan of fighters pressing him, pushing him on the back foot and putting him under intense pressure. That style has always troubled him, with Alexandro Santiago and Jonathan Rodriguez both running him incredible close, before Martinez used that same tactic to defeat him in February. That pressure, high intensity, fast tempo style is one he has shown he struggles with and unfortunately it's one he will be up against again here.
Martinez, despite entering as the champion, is still something of an unknown quantity in the eyes of many fans. He first made his name in the amateur ranks, as one of the best amateurs in South America, and competed in both the Olympics and the World Series of Boxing (WSB). In in 2017 he began his professional campaign, and quickly took the Argentinian Super Flyweight title, doing so just 9 months after his debut. After going 10-0, against very limited opposition at home, he was given a notable step up as he travelled to South Africa and beat Athenkosi Dumezweni for the WBC Silver Super Flyweight title, with that win coming in 2019. Like many Super Flyweights of the era he was messed about by the WBC, and rather than choose to wait for a potential shot at the WBC merry-go-round he turned his attention to the IBF title, and landed a mandatory IBF title shot, against Ancajas in early 2022. That was his big chance, and he made the most of it, pressing and out-hustling Ancajas from the early going to take a clear decision win.
In the ring Martinez is a night mare. He's not a big puncher, or heavy handed. He is however incessant, hyper aggressive and tough as hell. He presses and barely takes a backwards step, and through pure will he breaks fighters, mentally and physically. He doesn't have the most rounded or technical skill set out there, but he's something of an unstoppable monster who just keeps coming like a human terminator. Watching him he can be wide, he can be open, and he does give opponents chances to counter, but unless his opponent hits like a mule he won't be discouraged. To beat him a fighter either needs incredible power, or the ability to out work him, and we don't think many will be able to do either. Outside of Estrada, Roman Gonzalez and Bam Rodriguez we're not sure anyone in the division would be favoured over him, an that includes WBO champion Kazuto Ioka, who also struggles with the all pressure style Martinez brings to the ring.
Given the nature of the first bout, which was a comprehensive win for Martinez, it's hard to see how Ancajas will turn this around. It wasn't like he was caught with a bomb, or suffered a freak injury. Instead he was dominated, and broken down mentally and physically by a fighter who fought like a possessed monster. We imagine something of a similar bout here, with Martinez pressing the action through out, setting a tempo that Ancajas can't match, and beating the fight out of Ancajas. One difference we do expect here however, is for Ancajas not to see the final bell. Instead we expect his corner to pull him out in the later stages, call it a day at Super Flyweight and let him move up to Bantamweight for the final few years of his career. We expect this to be a very, very painful bout for the talented Filipino, who's simply up against someone with a style that he can't deal with.
Prediction - TKO10 Martinez
Back at the very end of 2018 we saw two legendary Asian fighters face off in Macau, as Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23) claimed a career defining win, and picked up the WBO Super Flyweight title, with a controversial and highly disputed win over Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔], to become a 4-weight world champion. Sadly for Nietes poor decision making, and issues involving ALA Gym, saw him fail to build on that victory with Nietes giving up the title rather than defending it and establishing a reign in what was his 4th weight class.
With Nietes giving up the title we then quickly saw Ioka win the title, stopping former Nietes foe Aston Palicte to win the belt, and become a 4-weight champion himself, the first Japanese male to achieve the feat. Since then he has established himself as one of the top fighters at 115lbs, with 4 defenses of the title, whilst Nietes has been left on the outside looking in.
Now aged 40 Nietes looks to repeat his win over Ioka, and reclaim the title he gave up so cheaply in 2019, whilst the 33 year old Ioka looks to avenge one of his two professional losses and continue his reign. For both men the title is key for them to move towards divisional super fights against the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez. Nor fights however the bout promises to be an excellent show case of ring craft and boxing IQ, between two smart, talented veterans each looking to prove they still have a lot left in the tank.
The talented Ioka was a stand out amateur in Japan before making his professional debut in 2009, aged 20. Within 18 months of his debut he had claimed the Japanese Light Flyweight title and just a fight later he dethroned long reigning WBC Minimumweight champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai, in just his 7th professional bout. In the years that followed he proved that wasn't a fluke victory against a weight drained fighter as he has gone on to unify the WBC and WBA titles at 105lbs, whilst also winning the WBA title at Light Flyweight and Flyweight and the WBO Super Flyweight title. During his career he has already notched up a legendary resume with wins over not only Oleydong but also Juan Hernandez Navarrete, Akira Yaegashi, Felix Alvarado, Juan Carlos Reveco, McWilliams Arroyo, Aston Palicte, Jeyvier Cintron, Kosei Tanaka and Francisco Rodriguez Jr.
In the ring Ioka is a very clever fighter. He's always been smart and it's been the boxing brain that has allowed him to move through the weights and have success. He's smart, has excellent timing and whilst he's not the biggest, strongest, faster or heaviest handed he has the skills and ring craft to have success against fighters through out the lower classes. He picks shots well, he can take a good shot, and he can mix things up. He can box, he can fight, he can counter puncher and he can pressure, and with Ismael Salas working with him he seems to have brilliant game plans developed for each opponent. Great examples of that can be seen in his recent bouts as we saw him fight as a body attacked orientated pressure fighter against the taller, quicker Jeyvier Cintron and a smart counter puncher against the quicker smaller Kosei Tanaka. Durign his career Ioka has spent more than a decade at the top of the sport, though there has been poor performances from him, and his last two were poor, by his very high standards, though there is a feeling that he simply couldn't get up for those bouts, and as a result wasn't at 100%, this bout however, we expect him at his best.
The 40 year old Donnie Nietes has been a professional since 2003 with the Filipino have had an excellent career, over a prolonged time period. For much of his career he has been the #3 Filipino, behind Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, and despite being over-shadowed there no doubting he is a future hall of famer himself. He won his first title in 2007, when he claimed the WBO Minimum title, and he would defend the belt 4 times before claiming the WBO title at 108lbs, in 2011. He notched 9 defenses of the title before moving up to Flyweight and winning the IBF title, in 2017, and then moving up to Super Flyweight in 2018, winning the WBO title there in his second shot at the belt. As mentioned though he gave up that title and wasted around 2 and a half years of his career before returning to the ring last year.
Like Ioka, it's best to say that Nietes is an intelligent, smart boxer. He's smooth, relaxed in the ring, and excellent at picking the right shot. His experience, which has seen him facing a veritable who's who of the lower weights, has seen him have success against fighters with a huge mixture of styles, and he can tweak game plans for every style. Defensively he's smart, tight and hard to catch clean. Offensively he's very smart, finding ways to land clean. As he's gotten older he has slowed, and we saw him struggle with the 10 round distance last time out against Norbelto Jimenez, but he still has that world class talent to be a nightmare for many fighters. Sadly though father time is unbeaten in this sport, and given his age we do see this as a huge ask for him. Especially against someone who has taken the upcoming bout personally.
We expect this bout to be fought at a very, very high level. Both men will be adapting on the fly, round by round. We expect to see Nietes make a really good start. For 3 or 4 rounds he will be able to go pretty much evens with Ioka, however we're expecting Ioka to take control in the middle portion of the bout, as Nietes begins to show his age. By round 9 or 10 we expect to see Ioka in a comfortable lead, and we wouldn't be surprised at all to see him really go after Nietes in the championship rounds, trying to not just beat the Filipino, but send him into retirement with his first stoppage loss. Given Ioka has taken this bout personally, we really do see him trying to hurt Nietes, and body shots in the final rounds, could well be the key he needs to stopping the Filipino icon.
Prediction - TKO12 Ioka
By William Ridgard
Jesse "Bam “Rodriguez (15-0) makes his first defense of his WBC Super Flyweight Championship against the experienced and dangerous Wisaksil Wangek (50-5-1) (aka Srisaket Sor Rungvisai) , who is famous for beating and KOing P4P king and all-time great in Roman “Choclatitio” Gonzalez (51-3).
This is a brilliant crossroads fight between a hungry young prospect in Jesse Rodriguez and the veteran in Wangek, who is vying to prove he still has the capabilities to become world champion at the age of 35. This is another great fight in a division that just keeps on giving.
The keys to victory for Bam are to use his brilliant footwork and dance around Wangek, landing his key shots via his brilliant pivots which allows him to create angles and land shots. A great example of this was in his last fight against Carlos Cuadras, where he dropped him in the 3rd round via his brilliant footwork which led to him landing a flush uppercut.
The keys to victory for Wangek will be to let Jesse feel his power early and make him hesitant to engage. A weakness in his fight with Cuadras was that Jesse sometimes looked weak to the body, so if he also targets that area, it could make him less likely to engage and could lead to him winning the rounds.
Overall, I believe that Bam will outpoint Wangek in a close fight and will hopefully highlight how good Jesse Rodriguez is. Alternatively, it could be too much too soon for the youngest world champion in boxing, and this could lead to the experience of Wangek prevailing.
One of the biggest disappointments of 2021 was the late cancellation of the planned Super Flyweight unification bout between IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22) and Kazuto Ioka, which was supposed to take place on December 31st before the rise of Omicron lead to Japan closing it's borders and not allowing Ancajas into the country. As a result Ioka kept his New Year's Eve date, and scored and under-whelming win over Ryoji Fukunaga, whilst Ancajas looked for a new opponent to kick off 2022. That new opponent, for the Filipino, turned out to be the unbeaten, and unheralded, Fernando Daniel Martinez (13-0, 8), from Argentina. On paper the bout isn't the huge fight that Ancajas would have got had he faced Ioka, but it's also not a gimmie for the "Pretty Boy", and it could be a potential banana skin against someone who is very, very easy to over-look.
As we write this Ancajas is among the longest reigning current world champions in the sport. The talented Filipino won the IBF Super Flyweight title way back in 2016, when he upset McJoe Arroyo, and has defended it 9 times since then. Despite his lengthy reign he really has lacked defenses of note, and instead of mixing with the divisional elite, such as Roman Gonzalez and Sriskaet Sor Rungvisai, he has been busy dealing with the likes of Teiru Kinoshita, Jamie Conlan and Ryuichi Funai. In a division as packed as the Super Flyweight one over the last 6 years, his reign has been thoroughly under-whelming, and he has seemingly been happy to tick along amassing defenses without challenging himself against the top dogs. Worryingly for him however he has now been real tests by some of his lesser known challengers, with Alexandro Santiago fighting him to a very questionable draw and Jonathan Javier Rodriguez Valles giving him all he could handle last year. He was supposed to answer questions about his ability with the Ioka fight, but sadly, as we mentioned, that was cancelled due to the Japanese response to Omicron, costing what would have been an excellent match up. Interestingly there is also some questions as to whether or not he is simply out growing the division, and doing what he can to hold off a move up in weight, especially given the tricky task of winning a title in the current Bantamweight division.
Despite his frustrating reign as the IBF champion there is no denying that Ancajas is a talented boxer. He's a very tidy, smooth fighter, with lovely combinations, excellent speed, and light movement. He is a joy to watch in full flow and is one of the most eye pleasing fighters to watch. Sadly though he does seem to lack really concussive power, breaking fighters down rather than blasting them out, and pressure can be a major problem for him. Despite being incredibly talented, he does seem to struggle when fighters applying intelligent pressure, use their jab and come forward. Trying to out box Ancajas is not something we advise, but trying to bully him, get in his space, and prevent him from getting settled does seem to have had success, especially if a fighter can use a busy jab to apply their pressure, as Santiago did particularly well.
Aged 30 Fernando Daniel Martinez, also known as "Pumita", is relatively unknown but that's more down to a lack of fights on major shows rather than a lack of ability. He was a good amateur, competing at the 2016 Olympics among other events and also competed in the WSB, stopping Jasurbek Latipov in one of those WSB bouts and beating Vincenzo Picardi in another. Sadly as an Argentinian he hasn't had the push on major shows that he may have had had he been born in the US or the UK, and has actually had to travel for his most noteworthy professional bout, an 11th round TKO win over Athenkosi Dumezweni in South Africa for the WBC Silver Super Flyweight title. Sadly that win over Dumezweni is, by far, the most notable he's scored as a professional, and almost all of his other wins have been on the Argentinian domestic scene, something he should have been able to race through given his pedigree.
In the ring Martinez is aggressive, has solid power, and likes to make a fight. He's got pretty solid defense for an aggressive fighter, uses a lot of upper body movement, and comes forward a lot with shots that are thrown with bad intentions. He's not the quickest, or sharpest but he looks tough, doesn't mind making things messy, and looks like a really physically strong guy at the weight, who brings pressure, and comes to fight and does seem to like to finish opponents off. Although clearly aggressive and talented, he has been lucky that his opponents haven't, on the whole, been able to make him pay for his rather straight forward aggression, and although he has nice upper body movement he does appear to have a rather open guard, something that a fighter like Ancajas could punish. Dumezweni had success at mid range, and made Martinez fall short quite a bit when he established ranged and that is something that Ancajas will be looking to reproduce here. Likewise Angel Nicolas Aquino also had moments against Martinez when eh created space.
Martinez is very clearly dangerous, and his aggressive, come forward style is something that has given Ancajas trouble in the past. The pressure, the toughness and the physical strength of the Argentinian will certainly have real moments of success against Ancajas. Notably though we do feel like Martinez's slower foot work, and the he can be made to reach, will give Ancajas chances to counter. We suspect after a few rounds of good counters from the Filipino Martinez will begin to show him some respect, and when that happens we see life getting easier for the smoother, more natural boxing skills of Ancajas.
The Filipino will have to grit out some real tough moments here, but we see him doing enough to take a very, very, very hard fought decision and retain his title. This will not be easy for Ancajas, though we dare say he's facing Martinez at just the right time. Martinez probably needed and extra bout, or two, at a decent level before stepping in with someone like Ancajas. This is a huge step up for Martinez and one that we're not totally he's quite ready for.
Prediction - UD12 Ancajas
In our predictions to begin the year we predicted 2022 was going to be the year of rematches, and after a number of those in January they continue to come this weekend, as we see a highly anticipated, and long over-due, rematch between former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (50-5-1, 43) and the man who first dethroned him, Carlos Cuadras (39-4-1, 27), with the two looking to reclaim the currently vacant WBC Super Flyweight title. The very title Cuadras took from Srisaket in their first meeting.
In recent years the Super Flyweight division has been getting the respect it deserves, and the fighters are getting the credit and audience it has long been due, but sadly when these two first fought in 2014 things weren't like that, and many missed out on the bout, and the controversy and bad taste that it left. The expectation was that the two men would rematch some time after that bout, but few watching that bout would have expected an almost 8 year wait for the two to go again.
When they first fought Srisaket was an unknown outside of Asia, and was looking to make his second defense of the title which he had won by destroying the under0rated Yota Sato. Cuadras on the other hand was an unbeaten contender, and seen as one of the future stars for Mexican boxing having had a solid amateur career and been co-promoted by Teiken. Interestingly Teiken won the purse bids for that bout and arranged for it to be in Mexico, giving Cuadras the best chance of winning. And win is what he did, when the bout was stopped prematurely, giving Cuadras a technical decision victory, and seemingly bailed him out as Cuadras was starting to come on strong and wear down his man. It seemed the ending was very much a lucky escape for the Mexican fighter, who had looked great boxing and moving in the early rounds, but had burnt a lot of energy with his movement, and was visibly slowing in the rounds prior to the finish. Had the bout not been stopped there's a fair shout that Sriskaet would have either stopped Cuadras, or reeled him in on the scorecards.
Following his title win Cuadras seemed to do what he could to avoid a rematch with the Thai, who became mandatory for the WBC title when he beat Jose Salgado a year later in a final eliminator, but ended up waiting almost 2 years longer for his eventual shot, which came against Cuadras' conqueorer Roman Gonzalez. Despite the long wait he made the most of that bout, taking a questionable decision over Gonzalez, before destroying the Nicaraguan legend in a rematch to put himself firmly on the international stage. Sadly for Srisaket, despite his success against Gonzalez, he has had to wait 8 years now to get his hands back on Cuadras, and neither man has quite looked the same in recent bouts. Despite that this is a bout fans of the division will be looking forward to, and will be expecting real fireworks from. Fireworks we were denied somewhat in their first bout when Cuadras' movement played such a major factor in the action.
Thankfully neither man really needs much of an introduction thanks to the fact both have had numerous big bouts available around the world in recent years. But still it is worth quickly looking over what the two men have done, and what they bring to the ring.
The heavy handed Srisaket is a beat of a fighter with a physically imposing style that combines relentless pressure, physical toughness and strength and freakish punching power. At his best he was a total monster, and someone fighters did their best to ignore. He showed how good he was in his prime against Yota Sato, destroying the talented Japanese fighter who retired soon afterwards. He also showed it when he dismantled Jose Salgado. Sadly though his most notable bouts came when he was perhaps on the slide a little bit, with both of his wins over Roman Gonzalez and his win over Juan Francisco Estrada coming after his 30th birthday. He wasn't shot, not by any means, but he was starting to lose something and that became particularly clear when he faced Hiram Irak Diaz, in 2018 just 18 months after the first Gonzalez fight, and against Amnat Ruenroeng in 2020. It's been a slow regression, hidden by his power, but it has been clear for those following him over the last decade or so.
Cuadras on the other hand is more of a boxer-puncher than Srisaket. He's light on his feet and was a very good amateur boxer who has kept much of those amateur skills in his locker. Prior to facing Srisaket he was seen as more of a puncher who could box, and at the time sported a 29-0 (24) record, but in recent years his power has proven to be less effective at the higher levels, but his boxing skills, shot selection, movement and hand speed have all been great weapons for him. Like Srisaket he is best known for his bouts with Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada and sadly like Srisaket his career is certainly winding down his career. He's currently 33 and has gone 4-4 in his last 8 bouts, suffered his sole stoppage loss last time out, to Estrada, and only narrowly squeaked past Jose Maria Cardenas in 2019, in his last win. He looks to have aged, and whilst he put in a great performance against Estrada last year, he was still stoppage in what looks likely to have been one last hurrah from him.
Given both men are past their best, and are likely coming to the end of their careers, which have both been excellent, it can be hard to judge this one. Sadly for Cuadras however we get the feeling this bout is rather personal in the eyes of Srisaket. He will feel that his loss of the title to Cuadras was wrong, and needing to wait so long to get his hands on the Mexican in a rematch would have just infuriated him more. The Thai will be hungry for revenge and that hunger, we feel, will drive him on. Not just to win, but to win quickly than Estrada did, afterall he's hunting another bout with Estrada himself. We suspect a very fired up Srisaket starts fast, looks to bully Cuadras, who will be slower than he was in their first meeting, and will break him down to the body. The Mexican, has lost some of the speed and movement which kept him out of harm at times in their first bout, and that will be a major issue here against the pressure of Srisaket.
We expect to see Cuadras make a fight of it at times, but will be broken down in the middle rounds and stopped as Srisaket becomes the first ever 3 time WBC Super Flyweight champion.
Prediction - TKO7 Srisaket
Way back in October 2019 we previewed an IBF Super Flyweight title bout between champion Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22) and mandatory challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (22-1, 16), with the two men set to clash on November 2nd. That bout was then cancelled, days before taking place when Rodriguez was unable to enter the US. The bout was supposed to be on a top Rank card and instead of taking on Rodriguez we saw Ancajas defeat late replacement Miguel Gonzalez a month later.
Now, 16 months later, we are finally getting the bout on a PBC show, in Connecticut, with the bout still looming as a mandatory defense of Ancajas. Sadly the Covid19 pandemic ended up affecting both men. It kept Ancajas out of the ring for the entire of 2020, kept Rodriguez out of the ring for much of 2020 and forced this bout, which had been planned for the year, to get pushed back. Again. Despite that we are now here. We are on the verge of the fight, again, and we'll again take a look at what to expect.
More than 4 years ago we saw Jerwin Ancajas announce himself as one to watch as he dominated Teiru Kinoshita on the Manny Pacquiao Vs Jeff Horn under-card. The performance was a break out showing and was Ancajas' second defense of the IBF Super Flyweight title he had won the previous year. It was the type of performance that he needed on the biggest showcase of his career. Soon afterwards he was given more big opportunities, facing Jamie Conlan in Ireland and then making 4 defenses in the US as he quickly became one of the notable Super Flyweights of his era.
Blessed with good looks, fantastic hand speed, spiteful power and a good boxing brain Ancajas seemed to have it all. Except for competition. Sadly for him the Super Flyweight division was moving on around him, the likes of Naoyta Inoue, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Donnie Nietes and Kazuto Ioka were all off limits to him. Rather than those divisional stars Ancajas was stuck facing the best of the rest, , like the aforementioned Kinoshita and Conlan, along with Jonas Sultan and Alejandro Santiago Barrios. The inability, or in some cases unwillingness, to face the top dogs in the division has seen his reign being a long one but one that is relatively low profile and not one that has made him into the star he should have been.
Sadly his B, and sometimes C, rate challengers haven't helped Ancajas look great. It's a shame as the 29 year old Filipino is a fantastic boxer-puncher. He's gorgeously smooth in the ring, throws wonderful combinations, has an excellent understanding of the ring, and combines skills, speed and power wonderfully. He is also a big kid at the weight and a southpaw, making him a nightmare.
Aged 25 Rodriguez is an up and comer who is looking to announce himself on to the world stage after fighting his entire career, so far, on the Mexican national scene. In fact this is only really the third time he has taken on a fighter of some note. Thankfully though his career has picked up in recent years, and his first 21 bouts were pretty much bouts where he learned on the job without making much fuss. In more recent bouts however he has beaten former world title contenders Felipe Orucuta and Julian Yedras, and established himself a lot more in 2 fights than he did in his previous 21.
Despite a couple of solid wins Rodriguez hasn't done all that much to really earn a world title fight, especially not given the talent in the Super Flyweight division, but the IBF will IBF and he is the IBF mandatory with only a couple of notable wins on his record. Which in fairness to the IBF is 2 more than some other recent mandatory challengers of theirs.
One notable thing about Rodriguez, and why he may be dangerous for Ancajas, is the relative lack of footage of him. From the footage that is available Rodriguez looks strong, tough, and aggressive. Like many Mexican fighters he comes to fight and he comes with a lot of desire and hunger. Sadly though he is rather methodical, a big slow, and a little bit clumsy. He looks like he could be hit, a lot, and may be stepping up too much from the competition he has faced so far. He's the sort of fight who should make for some fan friendly fights, but he looks like he would struggle with any of the top guys in the division. Including Ancajas.
The pressure and aggression of Rodriguez could make this fun and interesting, and if he can take sustained punishment whilst continuing to come forward he could be an absolute nightmare for Ancajas. We have seen Ancajas struggle on the inside, when fighters have got close to him, and if Rodriguez can get close and rough him up the Mexican might have a real chance. Especially give the fact Ancajas has been out of the ring since December 2019.
We suspect the speed, movement and skills for Ancajas will be the key. He'll neutralise the pressure, lure Rodriguez in, and tag him. Repeatedly. Rodriguez will not show any quit, and will be looking to make a fight of things in each of the 12 rounds, but we see Ancajas picking his spots and racking up the rounds en route to a clear decision.
Interestingly the delay for this fight may end up helping Rodriguez, but we still don't think it will be anywhere near enough to get him a victory here.
Prediction - UD12 Ancajas
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On New Year’s Eve, we close 2020 with a bang, as Kazuto Ioka puts the WBO Super Flyweight crown on the line against the man who aims to steal his thunder and become the 2nd ever Japanese 4 weight world champion, Kosei Tanaka.
Kazuto Ioka (25-2/14 KOs) is without a doubt one of the most decorated boxers that has come out of the land of the rising sun. A 10 year veteran, Ioka has had his fair share of wars.
His first major test arrived in 2011 when he challenged the unbeaten Kittipong Jaigrajang (35-0 at the time) for the WBC Strawweight title. Jaigrajang was champion for 4 years and had 6 title defenses under his belt. The Japanese hopeful went toe to toe with the Thai fighter, even knocking him down as early as in the second round and then once more in the fifth, with a lethal body blow, sealing the deal and becoming a world champion at only 21 years of age. Ioka defended his championship twice the same year, against Juan Hernandez Navarrete and Veerawut Yuthimitr.
6 months later, he was involved in a unification bout with the WBA champion and fellow rising star, Akira Yaegashi. Their careers shared many similarities. Yaegashi was also an accomplished amateur, with a record of 56-14, and had also won the National Sports Festival back in 2002. Both men brought their A game that night, knowing what was at stake. An epic back and forth affair, that brought the fans to their feet, ended with Ioka earning the unanimous decision and leaving Osaka with 2 belts.
Having conquered the Strawweight division, Ioka decided to move up a weight class and faced Jose Alfredo Rodriguez for the vacant WBA (Regular) Light Flyweight title. Rodriguez was the former interim champ, with 28 wins and only 1 decision loss. The Japanese prodigy systematically picked him apart with body shots and hooks, dropping him thrice for the win as well as for his second divisional title reign, where he enjoyed another long run, marking 3 successful defenses over Phissanu Chimsunthom, former world champion Ekkawit Songnui and Felix Alvarado (current IBF Light Flyweight champion).
After securing the WBA Flyweight title in a close encounter with Juan Carlos Reveco, they rematched on NYE of 2015 and as usual, Ioka’s body work was the key factor, stopping Reveco in the 11th round, in what was once again a very even fight. As Flyweight champ, he made five successful title defenses, over the likes of Roberto Domingo Sosa, Juan Carlos Reveco (as mentioned above), Keyvin Lara, Yutthana Kaensa and Nare Yianleang. His toughest one had to be against Kaensa. The interim WBA champion, with a perfect record of 16-0, shocked everyone when he knocked Ioka down, with a fast counter hook, in the second round. Ioka had never been dropped before in his career. Kaensa kept the pressure on for the majority of the fight, giving the local favorite a bigger challenge than expected. The tables turned however as Ioka put the Thai boxer down with a liver shot in the seventh round and proceeded to finish him off by keep punishing his body even more.
Ioka would go on to make history in 2019, when he fought Aston Palicte for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight title. The veteran dragged him into deep waters, wearing his opponent down, until he finally hurt the Filipino with 2 massive straight rights, followed by a plethora of punches, forcing the stoppage and becoming the 1st (male) Japanese boxer in history to win world championships in 4 different weight classes. Now, Ioka’s unique accomplishment is being threatened by a young and cocky fighter, who looks to create a legend of his own.
A bright star on the rise, Kosei Tanaka (15-0/9 KOs) has been on the fast track since the beginning of his career, winning the Oriental title in just his 4th professional bout, after defeating the then top ranked Ryuji Hara.
5 months removed from that breakout performance, Tanaka became the WBO Strawweight champion, with his sole defense being against Vic Saludar. Tanaka’s aggressive nature almost proved to be his downfall as he was repeatedly getting tagged by the Filipino challenger, losing the fight on the scorecards and even suffering his first knockdown, before stopping Saludar with a liver shot to retain his belt. (Saludar eventually won the title in 2018)
Tanaka would then move up to Light Flyweight and once again captured gold, putting on a boxing clinic against 2 weight champion Moises Fuentes. He comfortably defended the WBO championship over knockout artist Angel Acosta, but had a rough time against Rangsan Chayanram. Much like the Saludar fight, his fighting style got him in serious trouble. Not only he got dropped in the opening round, but even when Tanaka returned fire and finished Chayanram in the later rounds, he had sustained serious injuries during the battle, which led him pulling out of the much anticipated unification title bout with Ryoichi Taguchi.
Upon his return to the ring, this time at Flyweight, he outclassed the then unbeaten Ronnie Baldonado, earning a shot at Sho Kimura. In what was a fight of the year candidate, both men went to war for 12 rounds, throwing fists repeatedly, with Tanaka getting the better of these exchanges. In the end, the unstoppable prodigy received the majority decision and was crowned a 3 division champion, at only 23 years of age.
As fate would have it, his initial defense would be against the man he was meant to meet back in 2017, Ryoichi Taguchi. The former WBA & IBF champion looked like an old fighter here, unable to match Tanaka’s speed and power, getting peppered with hooks and jabs on numerous occasions, losing his second world title fight in a row and retiring shortly after. Tanaka proceeded to dispatch mandatory challengers Jonathan Gonzalez, dropping him 4 times with body shots and then Wulan Tuolehazi, whom he knocked out with a beautiful double uppercut combo. One year later to the day, Tanaka will make his Super Flyweight debut against a battle tested champion, in what could very well be the most important fight of his entire career.
Overall speaking, Ioka is the better boxer. He has a good defense, likes to keep his distance and throws sharp jabs and left hooks. He also puts together excellent combinations, attacking the head and the body seamlessly, leaving almost no space for his opponents to work on an effective offense of their own. On the other hand, Tanaka is definitely the faster and stronger of the two. Moreover, it seems like he’s gaining more KO power as he moves up each weight class. His only weakness has to be his reckless abandon style. In his latest fights though, Tanaka has showed a more composed side of his, but you never know when he’s going to throw caution to the wind again. If he does, Ioka will be there to punish the youngster for his impudent behavior.
At the end of the day, no matter what happens, this is promised to be an exciting clash between 2 of the best boxers in Japan today. Will this be a passing of the torch? Or will the “old king” manage to hold on to his throne a little longer? We will find out on New Year’s Eve!
On December 31st we'll see the decade come to an end, ending what has been an amazing decade of boxing. The final world title bout of the decade comes from Japan, because who else puts on New Year's Eve boxing? And will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) defending his title against mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron (11-0-0-1, 5). For Ioka this will be his 18th world title bout, in a career that will likely always be over-looked by many, whilst Cintron will be getting his first world title bout.
To close out a decade this isn't a huge world title fight, but given how much of a star Ioka is in Japan this is still a huge deal and it looks likely to be a great chance for Japanese fans to begin their new year celebrations just a few hours early.
Ioka has been one of the most notable Japanese fighters of the decade, in fact if we're being honest he has been one of the most notable fighter of the decade end of. He has fought at world level since 2011, and even with a retirement part way through the decade he has continued to be a very relevant figure in boxing, making a successful comeback. As many are aware boxing flows through Ioka's veins, his father was a fighter and his uncle was famously a 2-weight world champion. That family linage has help make Ioka a star, and Japan's first male 4-weight world champion and only the 4th man in history win titles at 105, 108, 112 and 115.
Ioka is one of the sports most over-looked fighters. He's an excellent boxer-puncher, a brilliant body puncher and despite only having 26 fights to his name he is someone who has fought almost his entire career at world level. Going through his record reads like a who's who of the lower weights with wins over Oleydeong Sithsamerchai, Akira Yaegashi, Juan Hernandez, Felix Alvarado, Juan Carlos Reveco, McWilliams Arroyo and Aston Palicte. He's adaptable and a genuinely fantastic all-round talent, though will sadly always be Japan's #2, at best, behind Naoya Inoue.
Cintron was a top amateur, a 2-time Olympian, and had won his first 10 bouts before having a No Contest with Koki Eto in a world title eliminator. That No Contest was a weird one, with Cintron being stopped following a brutal headclash, though Cintron would go on to win a rematch against Eto with ease, near enough shutting out the Japanese fighter over 10 rounds. That win was his best to date and comes after other decent wins against the likes of Alonso Melendez and Marvin Solano. Decent but not world class.
Given he was a top amateur it's not going to be a surprise to say that Cintron is a talented boxer. He's light on his feet, knows how to use the ring, and fires off technically correct shots. He is however a man moving up in class, significantly, and this will be the first time he's been in the ring with a genuine world class fighter. It will also be the first time he's fought in the East and the first time he's gone into the bout as an under-dog. He's a genuine talent, and at 24 is still improving, but there is a feeling that maybe this fight is coming to soon for him. Sure Ioka was 21 years old and 6-0 (4) when he won his first world title, but he was fighting at home and was up against someone less good than he is now.
We see Cintron a a future world champion. He's an excellent young fighter with so much potential. We don't see him beating Ioka however. We expect Cintron to have early success behind his speed and movement, but Ioka's powerful body attack will take his legs away, and when that happens Ioka will begin to take over, eventually taking a clear decision over Cintron, who will grit it out and survive though some tough moments late on.
With this being the last world title fight of the decade it does see attention turn back to Ioka, who in 2010 was still a rising prospect, and for him to now close out the decade in the same way he has finished so many years recently does feel kind of right, and this will be the 8th time he had fought on the final day of the year.
Prediction UD12 Ioka
On December 7th we'll see IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) defending his title against Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzalez (31-2, 8), in what will be Ancajas's 8th defense of the title. The bout is another underwhelming opponent choice for Ancajas, but a defend-able one after a bout in November fell through due to visa issues for his opponent, and this was put together on relatively short notice.
The Filipino has had one of the longest active reigns in the sport, winning the title more than 3 years ago, but it has been a very mixed reign with a lot of disappointment. He has great looked at times, and really made the most of fight against Teiru Kinoshita on a Manny Pacquiao under-card, but also looked awful at times, such as hie draw a year ago against Alejandro Santiago Barrios. More disappointing than his actual performances has been his competition, and his 7 challengers have not been the best. Sure he has had 3 mandatory challengers, but the other opponents, including Gonzalez here, have been poor limited opposition in what is a legitimately tough division. We could accept 1 or 2 easy defenses, but this is now defense number 8 and patience is wearing thin.
Whilst his competition hasn't been great Ancajas himself, is legitimately a top, top fighter in the Super Flyweight division. He's up there, in the mix, with the likes of WBA champion Kal Yafai, and equally frustrating champion, former champion Donnie Nietes and WBO champion Kazuto Ioka. We see him being behind the likes of Juan Francisco Estrada and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but he's in the chasing pack.
Blessed with one of the most naturally eye pleasing styles in the sport Ancajas is genuine exceptional. He's a clean, sharp punching boxer, with more than enough sting on his shots to get respect at world level. He's not a banger but he sets a good, high work rate, and breaks opponents down with a constant stream of solid shots. Technically he's solid, though not elite, and is not going to be an easy man to beat.
As for Gonzalez the Chilean becomes the first world challenger from his homeland in years, but sadly it would take a huge upset for him to become a champion.
Gonzalez was once tipped as a star. He won his first 17 in a row before taking a step up and being widely out boxed by Paul Butler 2013, in London, England. A second winning run saw him move his record to 29-1, before being stopped, earlier this year, by the excellent Andrew Moloney in a WBA world title eliminator. Despite a couple of win since that loss, it's hard to defend him getting a world title fight at this point in time.
Don't get us wrong, Gonzalez is a skilled boxer. Sadlty though he lacks in the areas that a world level fighter typically needs to have. Notably he lacks power. At world level fighters will simply be able to walk though his pitty-patty shots, and land the more eye catching blows. He can't get respect of his opponents, and unlike a fighter Ivan Calderon, he isn't impossible to hit clean. Instead he's skilled, but not elite level skilled, and solid fighters, like Butler, can out box him.
We see this being a painful night for Gonzalez. He'll be there to win and represent Chile, but in reality, we suspect he'll be broken down and stopped in the second half of the fight, as Ancajas' consistency overwhelms him, and simply leaves the challenger a broken man in need of saving.
Prediction - TKO9 Ancajas
On November 2nd IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) will make his 8th defense of the title, as he takes on Mexican challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1, 15). On paper this looks like an interesting bout, but given the depth and names at Super Flyweight there is certainly a feeling that this is another underwhelming challenger for the Filipino "Pretty Boy".
Just over 2 years ago Ancajas looked like he was set to be a star when he dominated Teiru Kinoshita on the Manny Pacquiao Vs Jeff Horn under-card, but has rarely shown the same qualities and excitement as he did that night, and instead of being a star his reign has been hugely frustrating and lacking in terms of quality. Whilst he has made 3 mandatory defenses, including the win over Kinoshita, he hasn't made the most of his voluntary opportunities and has lost a lot of the moment it seemed he once had.
In the ring the champion is a wonderfully smooth boxer-puncher. He has brilliant technical ability, sharp punching, great movement, and whilst he's not a puncher he hits clean accurate shots that take a toll on opponents. There's not many fighters who match up to Ancajas in terms of being a joy to watch with his speed and crispness. Sadly though his competition has been the issue and wins against the likes of Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Jamie Conlan, Israel Gonzalez and a draw against Alejandro Santiago Barrios, in voluntary defenses have done little for his reputation. Whilst mandatories against Kinoshita, Jonas Sultan and Ryuichi Funai have been very nice stylistic matches, he hasn't managed to build his standing on those wins.
On paper the 24 year old Rodriguez is a really good challenger. He is coming into his prime, has suffered just a single loss, recently beat the well regarded Felipe Orucuta and is heavy handed. Below the paper however we see a man who was beaten by a relative novice just 20 months ago, holds only a single win of note and hasn't really got a name reputation. In a division where there is a lot of contenders looking for a shot, he has done little to deserve one. He has done less to get his shot than the likes of Donnie Nietes, Andrew Moloney, Francisco Rodriguez Jr or Carlos Cuadras, or a rematch with Alejandro Santiago Barrios. It's hard to defend Rodriguez, despite his nice looking record.
Despite Rodriguez having little of what quality on his record there are things to like about how he fights. He looks strong and tough, he's aggressive and he comes forward with power in his shots. Sadly there's more to dislike about how he fights, he looks slow and clunky, a bit methodical, he drops his hands and he looks like he's there to be hit. He trudges forward, fails to really cut the ring off and although he can clearly punch he does leave himself open when he lets his shots go.
Watching Rodriguez what we appear to have is another show-case type opponent for Ancajas who should have a field day with the Mexican. From what we've seen of the challenger the interesting thing will not be the competitiveness, or rather uncompetitiveness, of the fight but more a question of just how much punishment Rodriguez is happy to take. He looks like he will be way out of his depth.
Prediction - TKO8 Ancajas
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.