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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Ancajas, Rungvisai headed for a showdown?

By Joaquin Henson
08 Oct 2018

WBC superflyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai pounded out a unanimous 12-round decision over Mexican challenger Iran Diaz at the Impact Arena in Pak Kret, Thailand, last Saturday with IBF counterpart Jerwin Ancajas, trainer Joven Jimenez and Las Vegas-based matchmaker Sean Gibbons watching at ringside to study what it will take to win a possible unification showdown.

Rungvisai, 31, dominated the fight from start to finish but had a brief scare when Diaz landed a right uppercut to the chin and the Thai went down in the eighth round. Referee Jay Nady, however, ruled it a slip to Diaz’ dismay. In the ninth, Diaz connected with a counter right straight to the jaw and Rungvisai fell but Nady called it a slip once more. Even if the knockdowns were called, Diaz wouldn’t have been able to overhaul Rungvisai’s wide lead on points.

Judge Richard DeCarufel of Canada saw it a shutout for Rungvisai, 120-108 while judges Yuki Fukuchi of Japan and Jun Bae Lim of South Korea both had it 119-109. The fighters scaled 114 3/4 at the weigh-in the day before the fight, the main event of a show organized by Singapore mixed martial arts promoter One Championship. The card was dubbed “One: Kingdom of Heroes” and the WBC title fight was staged in a ring with five rope strands.

Diaz was nowhere near Rungvisai’s talent level. In preparing for the Thai, he enlisted former world champion Juan Manuel Marquez as adviser and another former world titlist Juan Francisco Estrada as sparring partner. It didn’t make a difference as Diaz just couldn’t thwart Rungvisai’s two-fisted attack. To his credit, Diaz never went down and finished the one-sided fight on his feet.

Jimenez said he wasn’t impressed with Rungvisai’s performance. “Sa tingin ko, dalawang beses bumagsak si Rungvisai,” he said. “Open si Rungvisai at hindi naalis sa lugar niya. Madaling tamaan ng counter.” Jimenez said Gibbons will consult with Top Rank chairman Bob Arum on the possibility of staging a Rungvisai-Ancajas unification duel in the US early next year.

The WBC has allowed Rungvisai a voluntary defense in his next fight before engaging Estrada in a mandatory rematch. Last February, Rungvisai retained his title on a majority 12-round decision over Estrada at the Forum in Inglewood. The defense against Diaz was Rungvisai’s third since wresting the crown from Nicaraguan Chocolatito Gonzalez on a majority 12-round verdict at Madison Square Garden in New York City last year.

Gibbons and Ancajas went into the ring to congratulate Rungvisai right after he was declared “still the WBC champion.” Ancajas brought his IBF belt and posed with Rungvisai, also holding his WBC strap, as photographers captured the moment.

“We would love to set the fight and will tell Mr. Arum let’s do it and see if we can make it happen,” said Gibbons. “If it happens, it would be in the US as Mr. Arum wants to make the fight. I love Rungvisai’s style----flat-footed, right in front of you and easy to hit. But you need to be careful because he can crack.”

Gibbons has reached out to Rungvisai’s manager Thainchai Pisitwuttinan and the vibes seem positive. Pisitwuttinan requested Gibbons for quotes to share with Thai media and this was his message: “I am honored to be in Thailand with IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas to watch the best 115-pound fighter in the world----Thailand’s own Srisaket Sor Rungvisai … the people and boxing fans in Thailand are amazing … our visit was to watch the champ with the hope that Jerwin can defend his IBF world title against Rungvisai in a battle for Asian supremacy! Champion versus Champion would be a tremendous fight!” Pisitwuttinan replied to Gibbons: “This is amazing, thank you so much, we will share it with the press, they will love it.”

Gibbons, Ancajas and Jimenez were scheduled to arrive in Manila from Bangkok last night. They will map out plans for Ancajas’ next fight. It’s likely the showdown with Rungvisai will be Ancajas’ last in the superflyweight division as he intends to move up to bantamweight after attempting to unify the 115-pound title.

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