A Challenge Against Inoue Will Raise Ancajas's Profile
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Fri, 22 Jan 2021
Inoue (L) and Ancajas.
IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas is reported to make the ninth defense of his world title against mandatory challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez of Mexico this April in the USA.
Ancajas was supposed to defend against Rodriguez in September of 2019 in the US as support to a main event put up by Top Rank Promotion but Rodriguez failed to secure his travel visa on time. Jerwin ended up defending his title later that same year in Southern Mexico versus Chile's Miguel Gonzalez who subbed for yet another Mexican substitute challenger who was injured in training.
Jerwin is hoping that his overdue mandatory defense versus Rodriguez to finally push through as he failed to see action last year on account of the coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions.
However this is dependent on Top Rank's Bob Arum who is actually promoting his fights in cooperation with Sean Gibbons of the MP Promotion which handles Ancajas.
Arum though has been very particular about the viability of holding fights in this period where live audience are still not allowed or restricted to just a certain number.
That and his demand for his wards to help him directly in promotion by boosting their popularity and marketability among sponsors and the networks have put him at odds even with his star fighter Terrence Crawford.
Arum was quoted as saying he would not continue to shell out from his pocket to put up fights where he would only lose money because of fighters not helping in selling the fight or not marketable enough.
Given that, Ancajas should also try to raise his own profile not only to measure up to Arum's requirement but also to improve his standing as a world champion in one of boxing's loaded and popular divisions, the super fly.
Having won his crown back in 2016, Jerwin now is the most senior among the current super flyweight world titleholders that included Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (WBC), Nicaraguan Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez (WBA) and Japanese Kazuto Ioka (WBO). He also now holds the distinction as the longest continuously reigning Filipino world boxing champion.
However, he has been consistently rated below those three fellow champions and even Thai ex titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvusai. He is also overshadowed by fighters as American Joshua Franco and Australian Andrew Moloney in popularity among international fans.
The claim that he could not prove his worth against the bigger names because he is seen as a high risk and low reward is true.
But the low reward part is due to the fact that Ancajas has not raised his profile enough by facing and defeating mostly second tier type opponents in his previous fights and title defenses.
Except perhaps for Mexican Santiago Barrios who even nearly beat him in a drawn fight, none of his previous seven other title opponents have the name and credential as incentive to put him in the ring with his more accomplished fellow titlists at 115 lbs.
But not even a win over Rodriguez will change the perception that his championship journey has been on auto pilot characterized since by little risk taking on his part.
Rodriguez is still not the type of a foe who will put him nearer to a confrontation with any of the big names including Ioka who has recently stated that he is interested in the ultimate winner of the Estrada-Gonzalez-Sor Rungvusai series.
A few weeks back, Arum was reported as mulling the idea of pitting his new prized ward Naoya Inoue against Ancajas in the interim that he is not keen on pursuing the unification fight versus Johnriel Casimero behind closed doors.
Arum rightfully believes that the Casimero fight has to be held before live arena paying spectators in addition to pay per view as another unification fight he is lining Inoue against the winner of the Nonito Donaire-Nordine Oubaali WBC bantamweight title bout.
However, what have come out lately are reports that Inoue will be having a mandatory defense of his IBF bantamweight crown versus Filipino Michael Dasmariñas in Japan and Ancajas fighting Rodriguez in his own mandatory defense.
Inasmuch as nothing is definite about these announced fights, there is still chance though that Arum may go back to his idea of pitting Inoue against Ancajas.
That fight will not be hard to make as both are under Top Rank and are holding titles with the IBF which allows and gives priority to a champion from lower weight class to challenge a champion in the next higher division.
That fight will benefit both fighters.
In Ancajas, Inoue will have a more viable and named familiar opponent in the US given that his title defense against Dasmariñas in Japan could prove very problematic due to the prevailing pandemic travel and immigration restrictions there.
Though he stands very little chance against Inoue, the Japanese multi division titlist and top pound for pounder will finally give Ancajas the biggest name in his resume and the boost in his profile and credential needed to lure the big names going back to the super flyweight.
I surely am hoping for an Inoue-Ancajas fight to happen.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
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