OPINION: ANCAJAS, PACQUIAO AND PHILIPPINE BOXING’S FUTURE
By Rene Bonsubre, Jr.
04 Jul 2017
Ancajas wins in Brisbane.
For the most part of his eight year pro career, Jerwin Ancajas toiled in obscurity. He built his resume away from the television cameras and encountered a bump in the road when he lost a majority decision to another talented Filipino prospect, Mark Anthony Geraldo, in Lapu-lapu City, Cebu five years ago.
He clawed his way back up, still in relative obscurity, until big time boxing opened in Macau and Ancajas had the opportunity to fight there twice, including on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao vs Chris Algieri.
He had to settle for a measly purse when he won the IBF world junior bantamweight title against Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo in a fight that was offered free to the public in Taguig City. It did not draw a huge crowd and lacked the usual pre-fight media hype and fanfare that the Philippine mainstream media provides for basketball and Pacquiao’s fights.
But just like most Filipino athletes, Ancajas delivered when he was once again given the opportunity to fight in a big stage in front of a world-wide audience. He was methodical in his demolition of Japanese challenger Teiru Kinoshita. Slowly but surely building a lead with a huge edge in power punches, inflicting a cut on Kinoshita’s right eye and targeting it until it closed.
A wicked right to the midsection was the coup de grace in the seventh round and the IBF belt remained in Filipino hands.
The 25 year old Ancajas, who defended his crown for the second time, is the first world champion promoted by Pacquiao’s MP Promotions. He is in a fortunate and better situation compared to other Filipino world champions in the past. A title defense on home soil to continue to build his name is something his team should think about.
Jerwin Ancajas (L) of the Philippines connects with a left over Teiru Kinoshita of Japan during their IBF world super flyweight title fight in Brisbane, Australia on Sunday, July 2. Photo by Sumio Yamada.
Jeff Horn (L) connects at Manny Pacquiao during their bloody WBO world welterweight championship fight at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia on Sunday, July 2. Photo by Wendell Alinea.
His boss, Manny Pacquiao was not as fortunate. Whether you agree or disagree with the scoreline for Australian challenger Jeff Horn, there are things we cannot ignore when we watched that fight.
One is the fact that Pacquiao, the unstoppable force of nature we loved for the past two decades, was not present that night. We saw a glimpse of it in the second half of the fight. In fact, Referee Mark Nelson was close to stopping it, and approached Horn in his corner after he took a hellish beating in the ninth round to check if he was still capable of fighting in the subsequent rounds.
Pacquiao’s vaunted foot speed and ability to create angles was not available when he needed it. Horn was well conditioned and constantly moving and seemed faster in certain sequences. That is something Pacquiao’s team will have to look into now that they are talking rematch.
We also have to give Horn credit for staying on his feet and sticking to his gameplan. A few years ago, opponents would have crumbled to Pacquiao’s onslaught.
But Horn gave himself a chance. One thing boxers should remember is that you never know what the judges are thinking. Continue to fight and give yourself a chance.
Whether you think it was an Australian fairy tale ending or a farce, we have to bear in mind that Pacquiao cannot fight forever. We will continue to support him in the rematch but the word “retirement” has also been floated around.
As a fierce competitor, I foresee Pacquiao will train twice as hard for the rematch. But win or lose, all good things must come to an end. He is a 38 year old Senator who has been fighting as a pro since 1995 with 68 fights under his belt. We thank him for giving us the Golden Age of Philippine Boxing.
But during recent conversations with Filipino boxing pundits and insiders, a few glaring and disturbing facts come up.
There are now fewer boxing programs seen on Philippine television compared to ten years ago. This has been a gradual deterioration and only those who religiously follow the fight game here noticed this.
In a recent article, I lamented on the fact that local boxing is not shown live on Philippine television.
Is the solution for this sorry state to create another star? How can you create a star when most of our boxers are not seen on television?
For the past few years, ALA Promotions created an audience and a paying public in Cebu. It was long struggle for them to do that. But there was also a time, a little more than four years ago, when there were three other promotional outfits staging fight cards in the country’s boxing capital. Metro Cebu and nearby towns had fight cards almost every month. But most of them are now in hiatus or just sending their boxers to fight abroad. Omega Pro Sports International (OPSI) has made an effort for the past year but they have also expressed concern over the lack of television support. Sanman Promotions in Gen.Santos City, Pacquiao’s hometown, promotes fights on a regular basis but they are offered free. No one will promote boxing if they continue to bleed money.
This is quite a disturbing trend in a country that produced Pacquiao, one the greatest boxers in history.
Those who follow boxing in Metro Manila also complain that only a handful of people actually make an effort to go to a venue to watch the fights. Are the “fans” the one to blame?
Another unknown element looming for Philippine boxing is Sen.Pacquiao’s bill to create a Philippine Boxing Commission that will take control of professional boxing away from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB). If this bill becomes a law, we can only hope the body will be headed by someone who is an incorruptible reformer.
Since boxing was created, the sport has always been inhabited by leeches and shady characters. They will pounce on anyone they see as naïve or willing to just play along.
Filipinos who are aware of our sports history know that we once ruled basketball here in Asia from the 1950’s till the early 70’s. That time is long gone. Will that downslide happen in boxing? Will we wake up one day and grieve for Philippine boxing?
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