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Long, hard road to top for Ancajas


PhilBoxing.com




Newly-crowned IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin (Pretty Boy) Ancajas of Panabo, Davao del Norte, went through hard times to reach the top and now that he?s king of the world, it won?t be easy dislodging him from the throne.

Ancajas? manager Joven Jimenez said recently he expects the southpaw to enjoy a long reign. Ancajas, 24, wrested the IBF 115-pound crown from Puerto Rico?s previously unbeaten McJoe Arroyo via a unanimous 12-round decision at the Jurado Hall Naval Station in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, last week. A left hook to the body and a right cross to the head dropped Arroyo who almost fell out of the ring through the rope strands in the eighth round. The win raised Ancajas? record to 25-1-1, with 16 KOs, six in the first round.

?He?s very disciplined, very loyal and very determined,? Jimenez said of Ancajas who fights under Sen. Manny Pacquiao?s MP Promotions. ?Manny wants his first defense in the Philippines and it will be in four months. We?ll pick a worthy opponent in the top 15 rankings for the choice defense. What I like about Jerwin is he?s very dedicated. He loves boxing and knows there?s nothing else he can do to earn a living so he?s giving it his all. His dream was always to win the world title. Now that he?s the world champion, Jerwin will do everything to stay on top.?

Jimenez said Ancajas made Arroyo, a 2008 Olympian who won a bronze medal at the AIBA World Championships in 2007, look slow and flat-footed. ?Arroyo couldn?t keep in step,? said Jimenez in Pilipino. ?Jerwin?s footwork was too good. Arroyo was often off-balance. Jerwin kept spearing him. I don?t think Arroyo lacked stamina because he went 12 rounds. Jerwin was just better prepared. He waited so long for this title shot and didn?t want to throw away the opportunity.?

The fight was originally scheduled in Puerto Rico last February but it was postponed for unclear reasons. The IBF then conducted a purse bid to reset the bout. Arroyo?s camp didn?t bother to bid. MP Promotions submitted an offer of $25,000 to hold the fight in the Philippines. Uruguay matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz, who handles IBF flyweight champion John Riel Casimero, turned in the tender in behalf of MP Promotions. Mike Koncz and Sean Gibbons coordinated the effort with Lewkowicz.

The title bout was rescheduled for April at the Strike Coliseum in Bacoor, Cavite but that, too, was postponed when Arroyo suffered an injury in training. Finally, the IBF confirmed a final date on Sept. 3 at the Jurado Hall. There was speculation that Arroyo would back out and relinquish the crown but a month before the fight, he guaranteed his arrival.

Ancajas turned pro in 2009 with American businessman Ken Smith as his manager. Smith then lived in Digos where Ancajas trained. After four wins, Ancajas? amateur coach Dodong Disabille decided to bring him to Manila. Smith had gone back to the US and Disabille contacted Jimenez to take him over.

?I didn?t know Jerwin so my first reaction was I wasn?t interested,? said Jimenez who started boxing as an amateur at 10 and became a national boxer before joining the Philippine Navy as a fighter in 1994 and as a coach in 1998. ?But Dodong insisted. He told me Jerwin had a lot of potential because he was unbeatable in Davao.?

Jimenez eventually agreed to take in Ancajas at his Top Contender gym in Muntinlupa. ?I had about 12 boxers at the time, including Froilan Saludar, Adonis Cabalquinto and Anthony Marcial,? he said. ?But they couldn?t get along. One by one, they left my gym until only Jerwin remained.?

Ancajas fought wherever the road took him----to Tanza, Imus, Lipa, Taguig, Kawit, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaluyong, Pasay, Lucena and Tianjin and Haikou, China. For a while, Cebu-based promoter Sammy Gello-ani arranged fights for Ancajas. Then, Pacquiao took notice. Nonoy Neri, one of Pacquiao?s trusted trainers, worked with Ancajas for seven fights, including two in Macau, and he won them all.

For Arroyo, Jimenez decided to take Ancajas to Tanay where he could focus on training without distractions. ?I?m grateful to Nonoy for helping Jerwin out,? he said. ?I just felt it was time to bring him out of Davao and back to Manila. One of my boxing students Mark Soong offered his property in Tanay for a camp. We built a makeshift ring. There was no roof at first so when it rained, it got muddy. Three weeks before the Arroyo fight, they put up a roof.?

Jimenez said he pulled Ancajas? wife and two children out of their rented home in Imus to save on expenses and brought them to Tanay. ?Whatever I earned from matchmaking and promoting, I used to feed Jerwin and his family,? he said. ?I borrowed about P200,000 from friends who were willing to help out. Jerwin?s biggest purse was $10,000 for his first Macau fight and the next was $8,000 for his second Macau fight. For Arroyo, he was paid $3,750 and they took out $1,000 for the IBF sanction fee. I didn?t take my share and instead gave a cut to trainers Rey Dulay and Marvelo Aballe who worked with Jerwin. I?m hoping for Jerwin?s next fight, he?ll be able to earn more.?


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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