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Jerwin Ancajas stares down Israel Gonzalez


PhilBoxing.com




CORPUS CHRISTI. IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas stood his ground yesterday when Mexican challenger Israel Gonzalez came within kissing distance during a face-off on stage in a media conference at the Brewster Street Ice House here to hype their 12-round title fight set at the American Bank Center tomorrow morning (Manila time).

Ancajas and Gonzalez looked each other in the eye when Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels called them together for a photograph. “It got tense up there,” said Samuels after the fighters stared down, almost nose to nose, without moving an inch for a few seconds. It was Gonzalez who stepped up to Ancajas to nearly bump heads.

“I’m not afraid of him,” said Ancajas. “He thought he could psych me out. I showed him I’m not backing off.” Throughout the media conference, Ancajas was a picture of confidence while Gonzalez seemed nervous. When it was over, Ancajas was called back on stage for a one-on-one interview by Top Rank reporter Crystina Poncher.

“It’s a blessing that I’m given the opportunity to sign with Top Rank and fight on ESPN,” Ancajas told Poncher. “I’m compared a lot to Sir Manny (Pacquiao) but he’s a legend and I’m just trying to do what he wants me to do. I’m fighting for my country and I hope to bring the championship back home.” Poncher said Ancajas is like Pacquiao in that they’re both humble, they’d won world titles before their US debuts and they started their careers weighing less than 110 pounds.

Ancajas said Gonzalez looks well-prepared to rumble. “I’m ready for him,” he said. “His body is like (Teiru) Kinoshita and (Jamie) Conlan. I’m sure it will be an exciting fight.” Neither Kinoshita nor Conlan survived the distance with Ancajas in failing to dethrone the champion last year.

Las Vegas matchmaker Sean Gibbons said Ancajas’ style isn’t quite like Pacquiao’s. “Manny’s a balls to the wall guy, he comes out throwing from the first bell,” said Gibbons. “Jerwin’s methodical, calculating. He breaks you down and doesn’t go for the quick knockout unless there’s a clear opening. He’s got skills and a heart like Manny.”

Ancajas, 26, has a 28-1-1 record with 19 KOs compared to Gonzalez’ 21-1, with 8 KOs. The Mexican’s only loss was a six-round unanimous decision to Argi Cortes in Tlalnepantla, Mexico, in 2016. “The other guy was much bigger but Israel fought anyway because his fight against somebody else in Cabo San Lucas was cancelled,” said Gonzalez’ interpreter Raul Garza, Jr. “After that loss, he swore never to lose again and went up to live up in the mountains in Jiquipilco where guys like Tomoki Kameda, Jorge Paez, Jr., Juan Carlos Salgado, Carlos Cuadras and Estrada train.”

Gonzalez said he has no problem in making the 115-pound limit. Asked what are Ancajas’ strengths, he said the Filipino has hand speed, power and he’s aggressive. On his weaknesses, Gonzalez said Ancajas is stiff and walks straight into a punch. Gonzalez said his most dangerous punch is the left hook and he admires the style of 2004 Olympian and three-division world champion Abner Mares.

Gonzalez’ trainer Condor Sanchez said Gonzalez fights more like Erik Morales than Juan Manuel Marquez. “How I wish he could fight like Marquez, whom I consider to be the No. 1 Mexican fighter,” said Sanchez. Gonzalez belongs to the Hector Sanchez stable whose previous marquee fighter was the now retired former interim world middleweight champion Marco Antonio Rubio until Gonzalez came along. One of Gonzalez’ stablemates is deaf mute bantamweight Sombra Castillo.


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


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