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Heeding to Nature or Relying on the Magic of Modern Science in Boxing - Part 1


PhilBoxing.com



Martinez (L) batters Ancajas.

The popular saying in boxing or sports in general for that matter is that one cannot struggle for long against Father Time.

There is a long list of boxers or athletes who faced inglorious or ignominious end to their otherwise highly distinguished careers because they can no longer defy old or well advanced age.

There's Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Roy Jones, Jr and our own Flash Elorde and Manny Pacquiao to remind us, "We cannot beat Father Time."

But there's an even more telling and encompassing old Chinese saying that also applies to sports, boxing in particular: "Man cannot fight nature."

We are not certain yet why Jerwin Ancajas lost last weekend in what is supposed to be his grand championship headline fight debut in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, the still acknowledged boxing and gambling capital of the world thereby dropping his six-year hold of the IBF super flyweight crown.

Was it a matter of cold feet? Far out, as Jerwin is a veteran of nine previous world title bouts, all held mostly in the US, a few in Mexico and one in the UK which except for a draw saw the hands of Ancajas raised in victory.

If anything, it was his opponent, Fernando Martinez who would have been predisposed to some nerves as the Argentine former 2016 Rio Olympian was young and had only less than ten pro fights. But Martinez showed not only nerve of steel but deadly determination to pull off a convincing 12 round unanimous decision victory which is regarded as a huge upset.

Did Jerwin suddenly grow old? Well that's a distinct possibility. Jerwin is already 30 years old and had been world champion since late 2015. Like or not, his age showed in this performance where he was both outsped and outworked by Martinez.

Flash Elorde was on his seventh year as world junior lightweight champion and fighting for nearly two decades when he lost his title to a younger Yoshiaki Numata, a fighter he would have easily bowled over five years earlier.

That could have also been the case with Ancajas against Martinez who showed nothing special than his advantages in youth and speed despite being a product of the Argentine school of boxing that places premium on brute strength as exemplified by his own mentor, Marcos Rene Maidana.

For all his merits as a boxer/fighter, Ancajas had been noted by some foreign commentators and observers for his seeming aversion to close quarters sustained fighting, the main reason he prevailed in bouts where he had to commit to such was his more superior skills and that his opponents had sustained the bigger damages that the fight had to be stopped though they may still be in condition to continue.

Meaning to say, Jerwin had not been previously pushed to the limits, except by nail tough Santiago Barrios who he was fortunate to hold to a draw in a fight some thought he lost. The camp of Martinez conceivably studied the tape of that fight and perhaps concluded that a more sustained pressure would crack the Pinoy champion. As per result, that did the trick.

Was he overstrained or undertrained? Not a chance as he has had a well managed training camp despite the fact his supposed unification bout last December versus WBO titlist Kazuto Ioka had to be shelved due to renewed pandemic restrictions in Japan. Fact was he had been with other Filipino fighters training in the US and under expert coaches and trainers, such possibility was highly remote or unlikely.

Did Jerwin overgrow his current division? His manager Sean Gibbons gave a tacit positive response to this as he revealed that Jerwin was still two pounds over the 115 lbs limit heading to the official weighin and was so drained in the effort to successfully make the weight. Jerwin tipped the scale just below the limit.

The rigors of meeting the weight were very evident in Jerwin's showing as he did not have the reflexes, the stamina and power he usually demonstrated in his previous winning contests, the last held almost ten months ago against tough Mexican mandatory challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez whom he beat on points, among the few who heard the final bell.

But how could his experienced camp have overlooked this? Surely they have physical conditioning coach on board supported by nutritionist and dietitian who through the so called magic of modern sports science and medicine could have precluded such.

This brings me to the subject of nature and science in sports, particularly boxing which for years have brought contrasting results particularly to Filipino boxers.

You see, through the past more than 50 years of my following boxing, I have known Filipino world boxing champions losing their fights and titles right at the weight scale.

I believe we have to look closely on the roles of nature and science on this no longer new phenomenon.

To be continued

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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