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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Last chance for Funai

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
04 May 2019



STOCKTON. For Japanese challenger Ryuichi Funai, the fight against IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas is his first and last attempt to win a world title. It’s do-or-die for Funai as he battles to dethrone Ancajas in this California city, 80 miles east of San Francisco, tonight (tomorrow morning, Manila time).

Funai, 33, isn’t thinking of boxing too much longer. He plans to start a family with his wife soon----they’ve been married three years----and open a Japanese curry restaurant. His wife works in a cake store and someday, hopes to own her own bake shop. Funai, a high school graduate and a licensed chef, is investing his ring earnings to build a fund for the future.

A group of over 20 relatives and friends made the trip from Japan to be at ringside tonight. Funai’s parents, wife, brother and sister-in-law flew in to cheer for him. Funai’s gym manager Kaztaka Yoshino said this is his last chance to capture a world crown as he’s not getting any younger so it’s make or break.

Funai said he’s confident of beating Ancajas. He sparred over 150 rounds with four southpaws, like Ancajas, and said the title will be his when the fight is over. His trainer Tomoaki Takahashi, who worked with former WBA superflyweight champion Kohei Kono, said training camp couldn’t be better.

“Ancajas is aggressive but I can beat him,” said Funai. “I’m not like (Teiru) Kinoshita (whom Ancajas stopped in Brisbane in 2017). He’s a southpaw and I’m not. Our styles are different. I know what Ancajas’ weaknesses are and I’ll expose them in our fight. I’ve fought Filipinos before. I lost to Rolly Lunas and I knocked out Ryan Bito and Warlito Parrenas. I wasn’t myself when I lost to Lunas but what I did to the others, I will do to Ancajas.”

Funai said his favorite Japanese boxer of all time is former WBA superfeatherweight titleholder Takashi Uchiyama who retired in 2016 with a record of 24-2-1, including 20 KOs. Uchiyama lost twice to Panama’s Jezrell Corrales and fought Filipino Michael Farenas to a technical draw in 2012. “Uchiyama was a humanitarian, that’s why I like him,” said Funai.

Takahashi said what sets Funai apart from other fighters is his “lion heart.” Funai has fought exclusively in Japan and will make his first overseas appearance against Ancajas. It’s his first visit to the US. The only other country he has traveled to before was Korea. “I’m very excited to fight in the US,” said Funai. “Ancajas is a talented, all-around fighter but I’m aggressive and I have a strong heart.”

Ancajas’ trainer Joven Jimenez said Funai isn’t a run-of-the-mill challenger. “Hindi basta-basta si Funai,” he said. “May diskarte sa labas at loob. Kung minsan, pa-sugod, kung minsan, hindi. Experienced fighter siya.” Of Funai’s seven defeats, one was by a split decision and another by a majority. He has been stopped by Lunas, former WBC bantamweight ruler Shinsuke Yamanaka and Kenichi Yoshioka. Funai's record is 31-7, with 22 KOs, compared to Ancajas' 30-1-2, with 20 KOs.

Ancajas said Funai’s height advantage of at least two inches is no problem. “Mas mahirap kalaban yung maliit sa akin kasi madalas, nagkaka-headbutt,” he said. “Matangkad si Funai sa akin kaya malamang hindi kami mag-aabot ng ulo. Mas madali tamaan ang bodega niya.”


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