It just keeps happening! The Super Flyweight division just keeps delivering FOTY contenders and instant classics, and we saw that again tonight with a brilliant bout for the IBF Super Flyweight title.
Going into the bout Filipino fighter Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22) was expected to make an easy defense as he took on mandatory challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (22-2, 16), an unheralded Mexican who really wasn't well known by fight fans. On paper this looked like an interesting match up but, given recent IBF mandatory title fights, it was also expected to be very easy for Ancajas, who had already run up a title record 8 defenses of the belt.
Whilst fans and the media may have been expecting an easy one for Ancajas, Rodriguez had different plans in mind and from the off he was pressing and coming forward. Unfortunately for Rodriguez he was too slow early on to get close and dictate the pace, but he was having success and he wasn't looking outclassed, just too slow. In round 2 Rodriguez again had success, but was out boxed for much of the round.
In round 3 things really went up a gear as the Mexican closed the distance more and Ancajas looked to try and prove his metal as the two ended up engaging for much of the round, in what was a fantastic 3 minutes of action. The action really was eye catching when they fought up close, with Ancajas landing some fantastic body shots and Rodriguez finding regular success with his uppercuts. This was a sign of what we were to see later on, but was, for now, a bit of an abiration.
Rounds 4 and 5 saw Ancajas begin to use his brain more, dictating the tempo, using his feet and jab and making full advantage of the fact he had the quicker feet and quicker hands. He was letting Rodriguez follow him around the ring, and tagging the Mexican regularly. In all honesty Ancajas was making it look easy in those two rounds. That however, did no last long.
In round 6 we again saw the tempo going through the roof as both men traded from the off, Rodriguez came out like he had a point to prove and he really upped his pace, forcing Ancajas to go with him. The entire 3 minutes was spent with the two men in a phone booth, unloading huge shots back and forth in what was a thrilling, pulsating round of action. It was really none stop as the two men took it in turns to unload on each other. Through the round Ancajas' looked the busier man, landing the higher volume, but Rodriguez seemed to be landing the heavier, more meaningful blows.
After a really good sixth round the pace slowed down a bit through round 7. It was a round that started well for Rodriguez, but as it went on Ancajas got back to his boxing, and he took control of the action again.
Round 8 was, by far and away, the most significant of the bout. It started with Ancajas controlling the action whilst boxing and moving. By the middle portion of the round however Rodriguez was closing the distance and dragging Ancajas into his fight. When that happened the pace increased massively, as the two traded blows. Rodriguez, for the first time, seemed hurt and backed up, and Ancajas went all out, unloading shots with both hands whilst Rodriguez was in the corner. The flurry from Ancajas saw him hurt Rodriguez to the body, then follow up up top, finally sending Rodriguez down. The Mexican took his time to respond, but beat the count and survived the final few seconds of the round
It seemed almost certain that the Mexican would be stopped as we went into round 9. Amazingly however he seemed to recuperate between rounds and came out hungry for the 9th. It was another brilliant round, with Rodriguez pressing and pressuring with pure determination. He was fighting on incredible will power and he showed no quit at all. That was despite being visibly hurt numerous times from body shots. Every time he was hurt he stiffened up, before gritting his teeth and pursuing Ancajas, again and again. It was a gritty, determined and brilliant effort from a man who seemed inhuman. It would have been easy for Rodriguez to have accepted a loss, gone down again from one of the body shots, or even fought to survive. Instead however he came to win and continued to press through the pain.
Despite a brilliant effort through 9 rounds the challenger would have known he was behind going into round 10. He would have known he needed to finish strong. Really strong. And that's exactly what he did. The final 3 rounds saw Rodriguez fighting through exhaustion and pain with amazing hunger, cutting the distance and out working a tired looking Ancajas. The Filipino had moments in all 3 of the final rounds, but was out worked as the will of Rodriguez over-came the skill of Ancajas. Those final 3 rounds saw Rodriguez were incredible. But they weren't enough to grind down the Filipino champion, who survived to the final bell.
After 12 brilliant rounds we went to the judges scorecards, which were read out as 115-112, 116-111 and 117-110, all in favour of Ancajas.
It's hard to argue with the result, though 117-112 felt too wide given the determined effort of Rodriguez, who made this into such a thriller. Ancajas got the decision, and he deserved it. But boy did he have to work for this one, and it was, much, much tougher than anyone would have expected. It was also a surprisingly entertaining fight, something that Ancajas hasn't typically had. He seemingly could have made it easier for himself. He probably should have made easier for himself, but Rodriguez's determination cannot be questioned. He was great.
For Ancajas this was a 9th defense but in reality it was a chance for him to win over fans who have been disappointed by him in the past. It was the fan friendly bout he needed, and hopefully bigger and better things will come shortly for him. He spoke about a unification bout following the win, potentially a showdown with WBO champion Kazuto Ioka, and that would be a huge step up for him, and a great chance for him to prove he is world class.
As for Rodriguez, he made a lot of a new fans here. He lost but his performance was brilliant. He proved he tough, talented, brave and a hugely fan friendly fighter. Fingers crossed he gets more chances to show what he can do on a big platform like Showtime after this. He got a chance on a big stage, after a very long wait, and he made it count. He might not have got the win on the night, but he should be given chances again, and in the long term this loss could prove to be a massive victory for his career.
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.