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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Ancajas stakes title in Macau

By Joaquin Henson
05 Jan 2017

IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas takes on No. 15 contender Jose Alfredo Rodriguez of Mexico in his first defense of the 115-pound title at the Studio City Casino in Macau on Jan. 29 with the mindset of making an impressive showing to crash the lucrative US market before the year ends.

Ancajas’ manager Joven Jimenez said yesterday international matchmaker Sean Gibbons and MP Promotions’ Mike Koncz collaborated in arranging the optional defense in Macau. Gibbons told Jimenez he would show the fight in the US on TV to introduce Ancajas to the American audience. Ancajas has fought only thrice overseas, twice in Macau and once in Tainjin, China. It’s his dream to face unbeaten WBC superflyweight titlist Roman (Chocolatito) Gonzalez of Nicaragua in a big-money unification duel.

Ancajas, 25, said he’s ready for Rodriguez but declined to predict the outcome. “Rodriguez is not an easy opponent,” he said in Pilipino. “He’s a body puncher with a strong left hook. If he attacks, I’ll counter. Right now, I can’t say how I’ll fight him. It will depend on what he shows in the first round. I’ll make adjustments. All I know is I can’t afford to lose.”

Ancajas was up at dawn the other day and jogged for 1 1/2 hours around Imus where he set up training camp with chief sparmate Drian Francisco. Jimenez said making weight won’t be a problem although he admitted Ancajas still has to shed about 13 pounds in three weeks to hit the limit. So far, Ancajas has sparred about 60 rounds to get ready for Rodriguez.

“Jerwin took a break for a week after he won the title (last September) then it was back in the gym so he really hasn’t stopped working out,” said Jimenez, a former national amateur fighter who never turned pro and became a trainer instead in 2009. “We’ve studied Rodriguez’ style from videos. He’s a typical Mexican warrior and very experienced. He can slug or box from a distance. Mike (Koncz) picked Rodriguez because he’ll be a big test for Jerwin. Sean came up with a list of possible challengers and Mike decided on Rodriguez because he’ll give Jerwin a tough fight.”

Jimenez said Rodriguez is only 60 to 70 percent of McJoe Arroyo’s ability. Ancajas decked Arroyo once and scored a unanimous 12-round decision over the previously unbeaten Puerto Rican to wrest the IBF crown in Taguig last September. Arroyo will battle Japan’s Teiru Kinoshita in Puerto Rico on Jan. 28 to decide Ancajas’ mandatory challenger as the No. 1 contender. “Rodriguez doesn’t move too much but has good footwork and handspeed,” said Jimenez. “He’s not as talented as Arroyo but he’s a veteran. Rodriguez won’t back down and we don’t expect him to surrender easily. Our target is Chocolatito. Jerwin has to make a strong showing to make that fight happen.”

Rodriguez, 27, totes a 32-4 record, with 19 KOs. He turned pro in 2007 and raced to a 28-0 mark. Rodriguez has now lost four of his last eight bouts, including a sixth round knockout defeat to Japan’s Kazuto Ioka for the vacant WBA lightflyweight title in 2012. One of his setbacks was inflicted by reigning interim IBF 108-pound champion Milan Melindo who scored a win on points to capture the vacant WBO International flyweight diadem at the Araneta Coliseum in 2013.

Ancajas made his pro debut in 2009 and has compiled a 25-1-1 record, with 16 KOs. He has won his last 12 outings, 11 by KO. His only loss was a majority decision to Mark Anthony Geraldo in Cebu in 2012. The 5-6 Ancajas has a distinct height advantage over Rodriguez who is 5-3 1/2.

Ancajas will pocket $40,000 for the title defense, the biggest in his career. When he battled Arroyo, Ancajas’ purse was $3,750 and he had to pay $1,000 to the IBF for his share of the sanction fee. Sen. Manny Pacquiao, however, gave Ancajas a P500,000 bonus for winning the crown.

Jimenez, 44, trained with Onyok and Roel Velasco on the national team then worked as the Philippine Navy head boxing coach from 1998 to 2007. He had an office job with the Navy up to 2009, left the service and became a full-time pro boxing coach. Some of the fighters whom he has trained were Anthony Marcial, Marlon Mabait, Adonis Cabalquinto, Froilan Saludar and Conrado Tanamor. When Ancajas trained for Arroyo in Tanay, Jimenez brought along four other fighters, including Ryan Lumacad and Diarh Gabutan. Now, Jimenez trains only Ancajas.

“You can’t ask anything more from Jerwin, he’s hard-working and a good kid,” said Jimenez. “I used to train other fighters but one by one, they left. When Jerwin was in Davao, Nonoy Neri was his trainer. But now that Jerwin is based in Imus where he lives with his wife and two children, I work only with him.”
Ancajas is no stranger to Macau. In 2014, he was in Macau to halt Thailand’s Tanawat Phonnaku and Tanzania’s Fadhili Majiha. His only other foreign assignment was a 10-round win over Jing Xiang in Tianjin in 2011. Ancajas declined to guarantee a victory over Rodriguez but said he intends to return home with the IBF title belt still on his waist.

Jerwin Ancajas (L) after he won the title from McJoe Arroyo in Makati last September.

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