Second Overtime: As a pandemic grips boxing, Joven Jimenez leans on his faith
By Homer D. Sayson
Tue, 24 Mar 2020
CHICAGO -- It was a Monday, March 16. Another week looms and a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada lay just four days away.
But for Joven Jimenez, it was just another day. Another grind.
The champion trainer was with his prized ward Jerwin Ancajas and they were navigating their way to an undisclosed location in Makati to put in a solid round of training.
And then the phone rang.
It was Sean Gibbons on the other end of the line.
Gibbons, the president of Manny Pacquiao Promotions, is usually a leaky hydrant of joy and happiness, but he was less jovial in this particular hook up.
There was some unpleasant development to relay. The coronavirus has crippled the world and sports wasn't spared, bringing all forms of recreation unto its helpless knees, including boxing.
Gibbons told Joven that Ancajas' ninth title defense of his IBF super flyweight title scheduled at April 11 at the swanky Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino nestled on the famous Las Vegas strip has been shelved for now.
The news was unsettling. But it was also oddly familiar.
Last November, Jimenez received the same disappointing news when Jerwin's scheduled defense in Carson, California was called off because his then challenger, Jonathan Rodriguez, encountered visa problems.
Joven Jimenez (L) and Jerwin Ancajas in training.
Ancajas had a 35-day furlough and eventually defended his title for the eighth time by stopping Miguel Gonzalez in six rounds at the Auditorio GNP Seguros in Puebla, Mexico last December 7.
Ancajas' reset April 11 meeting with Rodriguez, who has since been cleared to fight in the United States, was supposed to be Ancajas' maiden bout in glitzy Las Vegas, the mecca of modern day boxing.
And then the pandemic happened.
A man of staunch faith, Jimenez took the setback surprisingly well.
"God is great. Protectahan po tayo lahat sa sakit lalo na sa coronavirus," (God is great. He will protect us all from illness especially the coronavirus) Jimenez told PhilBoxing.com.
The inconvenience and the uncertainty of a new fight date doesn't bother Jimenez, either.
"Tinatanggap ng maluwag para madaling maka move on sir. Focus agad sa training," (We are taking this in stride so we can move on swiftly and focus on training) he added.
So the game plan for now, Jimenez explained, is to make sure that Jerwin stays sharp and trim without burning out. A huge key to that is reducing the volume and intensity of training sessions.
As for Jerwin's food intake, nutritionist Jeaneth Aro remains on Team Ancajas monitoring breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Aro told PhilBoxing.com that Jerwin's meals are based on a typical Filipino diet consisting of healthy choices. His intakes include eggs, fruits. rice. meat and vegetables.
Jerwin also shrugs postponement.
It's part of the job, he says. But he will be ready when the bells rings.
Whenever and wherever that may be.
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