FRESNO: UNLIKELY VENUE OF THE HISTORIC ANCAJAS-SULTAN FIGHT
By Dong Secuya
Fri, 25 May 2018
FRESNO, CA ? The historic all-Filipino Jerwin Ancajas-Jonas Sultan world title fight will be held Saturday (Sunday in Manila) in an unlikely location in Fresno, an inland city in California's central valley where Filipinos are a small minority. In an ideal situation, the fight should be held in the Philippines or in big Filipino population cities in the United States like Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas. The Ancajas-Sultan fight is the first world championship fight to be held between two Filipinos since the Pancho Villa vs Clever Sencio world flyweight championship on May 2, 1925 in Manila.
Fresno is a farming community founded in 1872 with over half a million residents as of the last census, the most populous inland city in California. Fresno is located 350 kilometers north of Los Angeles and 300 kilometers southeast of San Francisco and is the a main stopover city for tourists because it is surrounded by some of California's famous national parks. Yosemite National Park is located 100 kilometers to the north, Kings Canyon National Park is 100 kilometers to the east and Sequoia National Park is 120 kilometers to the southeast.
Rows and rows of grapes are seen for miles and miles in the Central Valley area.
According to Wikepedia, 49.6% of the population of Fresno are Whites while Latinos comprised 46.9% of the population mostly Mexicans (42.7%). 12.6% are Asians with Filipinos at 1.2%.
But Top Rank, who promotes IBF champ Ancajas, has the say and opted to hold the event here.
Nevertheless, Fresno, because of its strategic location and its large Latino population, has a long history in boxing. Boxrec has on its record a Fresno boxing event on March 24, 1898 and in the next 120 years had held boxing events regularly. Fresno produced its most famous boxing son in Young Corbett III (Ralph Giordano) who won the world welterweight title in 1933 and was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004 and whose statue grace the entrance of the Selland Arena in downtown Fresno.
Filipino boxing great and WBHF hall of famer Ceferino Garcia (1906-1981), who captured the world middleweight title in 1939, fought five times in Fresno from 1932 to 1941 winning four of his battles by knockout. His lone loss on points was to local boxing hero Young Corbett III on October 25, 1932 which was a rematch of their first fight on April 12 of the same year at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles which Garcia also lost on points.
Filipino great Ceferino Garcia (L) and Fresno's Young Corbett III (R) in action during their October 25, 1932 fight. Photo courtesy of Knuckles and Gloves.
The statue of Fresno boxing hero Young Corbett III (Ralph Gordiano) stands at the entrance of the Selland Arena in Fresno, California.
Top Rank currently promotes WBC world super lightweight champion Jose Carlos Ramirez, born at nearby Avenal, who is very popular in Fresno having fought many of his fights in Fresno. Ramirez himself is scheduled to fight at the Save Mart Center on July 7, 2018 to defend his title against Danny O'Connor of Framingham, Massachusetts.
The Ancajas-Sultan headlined Top Rank card will be held at Save Mart Center, the multi-purpose arena located inside the California State University Fresno campus built at a cost of 103 million dollars in 2001. It opened to the public in 2003. Its seating capacity for a boxing event is 16,182.
The Save Mart Center sits silently in the evening sun Thursday along Shaw Ave. in Fresno as the Ancajas-Sultan fight draws near.
To prop up tomorrow's event, Bob Arum has put up another world title fight in the co-feature between undefeated WBA superfy champion of the United Kingdom who will go up against David Carmona of Mexico.
Another Filipino will be fighting on the undercard as John Vincent Moralde (19-1-0, 10KOs) of General Santos City will exchange leathers with Ismail Muwendo (19-0-0, 12KOs) of Uganda. Popular Central Valley boxer Bryan Lua and Fresno boxers Isidro Ochoa and Manuel Salvado Manzo will open the card to spice up the event.
Ancajas and Sultan will be on the opposing corners when they climb the ring Saturday night for the IBF world super flyweight championship but they will go down as partners in history as the first Filipinos to fight for a world title on foreign soil.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Dong Secuya.
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