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Not Jerwin’s fault


PhilBoxing.com




If you think IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas wasn’t as aggressive against Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez in Corpus Christi last weekend as he was when he stopped Jamie Conlan in his previous title defense in Belfast, he’s not to blame.

Although Ancajas decked Gonzalez thrice in scoring a 10th round stoppage, he didn’t fight quite like the dervish that Manny Pacquiao is often described as. Ancajas was cautious in the middle rounds and never attempted to overwhelm Gonzalez with a barrage of punches. He fought with patient precision and to some fans who’re used to Pacquiao’s high-volume workrate, it wasn’t an overwhelming victory.

Ancajas’ manager/trainer Joven Jimenez said it was his idea to play “safety.” He called it fighting “de numero.” Jimenez said Gonzalez’ strategy was to bait Ancajas within his strike zone so he could counterpunch like Juan Manuel Marquez. He remembered how Marquez was close to losing to Pacquiao in their fourth bout when the Mexican landed a counter right straight that brought down the Filipino icon with a second left in the sixth round in Las Vegas in 2012. Jimenez dreaded the thought of Gonzalez reprising what Marquez did.
****

Instead of Ancajas trying to suffocate Gonzalez with machine-gun combinations, he settled for basic 1-2s then stepped out before the Mexican could retaliate. Ancajas frustrated Gonzalez who never found his range and the challenger wore himself out throwing haymakers to the wind. Gonzalez’ connect rate was an atrociously low 16 percent. He threw a total of 303 punches and landed only 48. Jimenez said Ancajas doesn’t only hit hard but he’s hard to hit.

Over his last three fights, Ancajas hasn’t lost a single round. That’s a testament to his outstanding defense. It’s the reason why Las Vegas matchmaker Sean Gibbons said he’d be ready to fight again after two weeks. He was joking of course but there was a tinge of truth to it. Gibbons said Ancajas probably got hit by only 10 punches overall in mowing down Teiru Kinoshita, Jamie Conlan and Gonzalez in a total of 23 rounds, including the knockout stanzas.

Jimenez said while Ancajas went to the body in blasting Kinoshita and Conlan, his instruction was to go for Gonzalez’ head. If Ancajas targeted the body, Jimenez said he’d be open to Gonzalez countering with an overhand right or left hook. It’s also the reason why Ancajas didn’t use the uppercut often. Jimenez said the plan was to go almost exclusively with the jab-straight combination.
****

“Top Rank told us not to rush, that the important thing was to win, even on points,” said Jimenez in Pilipino. “I didn’t want to take any chances since it was Jerwin’s first fight in the US. Jerwin wasn’t nervous. He wasn’t as active as he was against Conlan because I told him to pace himself. I didn’t want him to engage. It was different with Conlan. We knew the only way to win was to score a knockout so Jerwin was aggressive from the start and attacked the body. Our strategy will depend on the opponent.”

Jimenez admitted that before the 10th round, he told Ancajas to coast and preserve himself for the last two rounds. He expected the fight to go the distance. But Jimenez also reminded Ancajas that if there was an opportunity to finish off Gonzalez, don’t hesitate. When the round started, it seemed like Gonzalez was on survival mode. He was exhausted and fought on instinct. Ancajas saw the end was near and pounced on his prey. Gonzalez was floored twice in the 10th before referee Rafael Ramos called it a night.

For Ancajas, the key was fighting smart. Ancajas played his cards right, waited for the opening then disposed of Gonzalez in clinical fashion. It wasn’t like how Pacquiao demolished Marco Antonio Barrera or Erik Morales or Miguel Cotto or Ricky Hatton. The bottom line was Ancajas won it his way.

Photo: Jerwin Ancajas (2nd from left) and his manager/trainer Joven Jimenez (3rd from left) celebrate after Ancajas' victory of Israel Gonzalez on Feb. 3 in Corpus Christi, Texas.


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


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