On Friday night in Oakland we saw IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) escape with his 6th defense thanks to a fortunate draw against little known Mexican Alejandro Santiago Barrios (16-2-5, 7).
On paper the bout was a mismatch. The champion had won his last 17, he was in the form of his life, and looked like one of the top fighters at 115lbs whilst Santiago was a relative unknown who had never fought at this level and was taking a notable step up. In reality however it was the challenger who looked the rounded and accomplished fighter.
In the opening round Santiago proved he was not the patsy many had anticipated. Instead he was a smart fighter. Despite the smaller man it was his jab that was landing, and it was he who was controlling the range, totally neutralising the southpaw jab of Ancajas whilst using smart footwork to get in and out. That footwork of Santiago not only worked for him when he was neutralising Ancajas but also when he was letting his own hands go, and after a few rounds he had found the range for his right hand and his left hook. Ancajas on the other hand was often limited to his straight left, which he landed to the body and head.
Many of the rounds were competitive but it always seemed like Santiago was doing enough to take the rounds. He was however leaving the judges an opportunity to give rounds to the slightly busier Ancajas, who's shots were less effective but but seemed to be more consistent. Sadly for Ancajas whilst he was doing more, he was very predictable and looked like a fighter who lacked real fire or a plan B. There no real change in intensity from Ancajas, no change in tactics and at no point did he ever really cut off the ring. Instead he continued the same thing over and over, whilst getting timed by Santiago.
What Santiago really did well was pick up the pace late in rounds, and there was a number of close rounds in which he upped the ante late on and left the lasting impression. It was something that Ancajas could never do, and when he tried to respond he was made to look messy and looked like he was either hurt or flailing at the air.
When we reached the final bell it looked like Santiago had won a clear but competitive bout. He seemed to feel that he'd clearly won as well, celebrating on the corner posts whilst Ancajas looked like a man who knew he hadn't deserved to retain his title. Boxing however does give us some whilst cards, and the first had Ancajas winning 116-112, a bizarre score. The second card had Santiago winning 118-111, another bizarre score but one that seemed to go to the right guy. The deciding had it 114-114 resulting in the draw.
The result really was as good as Ancajas could have got. He kept his title, but got a real scare, and seemingly got very fortunate. His stock has dropped as a result of the draw, despite remaining a champion, and it's clear that he should be guided away from certain fighters in the division. As for Santiago this was a performance that would have put him on the map. It could cause him problems, as he looks a nightmare to fight, but it's the performance that shows he belongs at world level, something few actually expected. The Mexican is unlucky not to be the new champion but will almost certainly get another in the future.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.