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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Ancajas ready for Chocolatito?

By Joaquin Henson
04 Feb 2017

IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin (Pretty Boy) Ancajas played matador in frustrating Mexican Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, appropriately nicknamed Torito, and was hardly threatened as he retained his crown on an eighth round technical knockout with Puerto Rican referee Roberto Ramirez waving it off after ringside physicians declared the challenger unfit to continue because of a right shoulder issue at the Cotai Arena in the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Macau last Sunday night.

Ancajas, 25, was clearly the superior fighter and it didn’t look like Rodriguez took a single round. From the onset, the southpaw Ancajas dictated the tempo with a piercing right jab and repeatedly staved off Rodriguez who tried to bore in but couldn’t come close. Rodriguez was never in serious trouble but could barely lay a glove on the elusive Ancajas.

When the bell sounded to start the eighth round, two ringside physicians were on the ring apron examining Rodriguez. Apparently, he complained of a shoulder injury. Rodriguez was asked by the doctors to raise both arms. He elevated his left arm but the extension on his right arm was severely limited. The doctors advised Ramirez to call a halt to the contest and the official time was 0:01 of the eighth.

Ancajas’ manager and trainer Joven Jimenez said it was a more impressive performance than the win over Puerto Rico’s McJoe Arroyo to wrest the IBF 115-pound crown in Taguig last September. “This time, Jerwin was relaxed and showed the confidence of a world champion,” said Jimenez in Pilipino. “His footwork was just as good but his defense improved a lot. His combinations were better. Against Arroyo, he wasn’t as sharp. Against Rodriguez, he threw combinations of three, four or five punches. I think if Jerwin fought Chocolatito (WBC superflyweight champion Roman Gonzalez of Nicaragua) instead, he would’ve won. What he did against Rodriguez would’ve been enough to beat Chocolatito.”

But former Australian flyweight champion Todd Makelim, who was in Ancajas’ corner, said there’s no hurry to fight Gonzalez. “Jerwin fought smart and his jab was on the money,” said Makelim who is half-American, half-Filipino and was raised in Australia. “I wouldn’t rush him for a fight against Chocolatito. Maybe, after two or three more fights, he’ll be better prepared for him.”

Makelim joined Jimenez, Ancajas’ chief sparmate Drian Francisco and assistant trainer Rey Dulay in the corner. “Jerwin completely outboxed Rodriguez,” said Makelim. “Rodriguez kept coming in with his head forward so that was dangerous because Jerwin could get butted. Jerwin did the right thing to box from the outside. It wouldn’t be to his advantage if he brawled with Rodriguez. He was comfortable out there, throwing jabs and combinations. Rodriguez got frustrated and couldn’t get untracked.”

A left hand injury that Ancajas sustained in sparring a month back caused some concern in the corner. It seemed like Ancajas bruised the fragile hand in the second round. Jimenez, however, said Ancajas wasn’t too bothered by the pain.

Businessman Hermie Esguerra, who hosted Ancajas’ training camp in his Lipa farm for two weeks, was at ringside and admitted he was worried about the left hand. The injury set back Ancajas’ training a week to recover from the strain. “I think it was in the second round when Jerwin hurt his left hand again,” said Esguerra. “He hit it on Rodriguez’ head or elbow.” Ancajas appeared to favor the left hand in the seventh round and fought mainly with his right. But even with one useful hand, Ancajas couldn’t be outfought by Rodriguez.

Jimenez said international matchmaker Sean Gibbons described Ancajas’ showing as excellent. Gibbons arranged the fight with MP Promotions’ Mike Koncz. In Macau to represent Sen. Manny Pacquiao was Joe Ramos.

“Jerwin kept moving around Rodriguez, jabbing, going in and out,” said Jimenez. “He hit him with jab-straights. He threw a lot of punches which is something we worked on in training. We didn’t want to fight Rodriguez’ fight. We knew he wanted to slug it out. Jerwin countered and didn’t let him come in. We wanted to do more boxing than punching.”

Rodriguez, 27, didn’t protest when Ramirez stepped in. He probably realized there was nothing he could do to reverse the tide. His cheeks were slightly puffy and there was a trace of blood from his nose but his inability to raise his right shoulder convinced the ringside physicians to advise a stoppage.

A sign of a bad night for Rodriguez came like an omen when the ring announcer made a mistake in calling out his name as he marched from the dressing room. Instead of Rodriguez, the ring announcer called out Gonzalez. Things weren’t right for the Mexican even before the fight.

The win raised Ancajas’ record to 26-1-1, with 17 KOs while Rodriguez’ mark dipped to 32-5, with 19 KOs. It was Ancajas’ first defense of the IBF title. Ancajas scaled 113.7 pounds and Rodriguez, 114.6 at the weigh-in the day before the bout.

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