The other weekend, Filipino boxer Jerwin Ancajas successfully made the first defense of his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight (115 pounds) championship after his opponent Jose Alfredo Rodriguez of Mexico quit at the start of the eighth round from a shoulder injury.
Ancajas (25-1-1 with 17 knockouts) put up a good display of punching prowess and somehow established himself as one of the up-and-coming young boxers in the Philippines who, unfortunately, may be pressured to emulate the achievements of Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire.
Ancajas won the IBF crown in September 2016 by decisioning McJoe Arroyo for his very first world title.
Now 25 years old, Ancajas is definitely at the peaking point of his career and his being 5’6” with a 66.5-inch reach can make him a potential top dog in the higher divisions. Remember that Pacquiao and Donaire are listed at below 5’7” and both collared their first championships at flyweight (112 pounds). Pacquiao went up to fight up to junior middleweight (154 pounds) where he took the World Boxing Council (WBC) belt for the division from Antonio Margarito in November 2010.
On the other hand, Donaire’s success was up to junior featherweight (122 pounds).
While Ancajas put up an impressive performance against Rodriguez (32-5 with 19 KOs), he is actually in one of boxing’s most competitive divisions where knockout artist Roman Gonzalez (46-0 with 38 KOs) is ranked at No. 2 in The Ring’s rankings for the division. Strangely, Gonzalez is the The Ring’s Pound-for-Pound king and holds the WBC championship.
The Ring has not named a champion for its junior flyweight rankings and the No. 1 contender is Naoya Inoue of Japan (12-0 with 10 KOs) who is the World Boxing Organization champion. Ancajas is No. 8 in The Ring’s rankings for the super flyweight division.
Rounding up The Ring’s rankings for the division are: Carlos Cuadra of Mexico (No. 3, 35-1-1 with 27 KOs); Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand (No. 4, 41-4-1 with 38 KOs); Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico (No. 5, 34-2 with 24 KOs); Khalid Yafai of the UK (No. 6, 21-0 with 14 KOs who is the World Boxing Association champion); Luis Concepcion of Panama (No. 7, 35-5 with 24 KOs); McJoe Arroyo (No. 9, 17-1 with 8 KOs); and Kohei Kono of Japan (No. 10, 32-10-1 with 13 KOs).
So in The Ring rankings for the division, there are three undefeated fighters and two of them are titleholders.
It looks like Ancajas is in dangerous territory given the tough competition in the junior flyweight division.
That situation, however, can be capitalized by Ancajas to boost his stock as the next Filipino boxing superstar and his next fights must be planned carefully.
Firstly, steer clear of Gonzalez even if the offer to fight the Nicaraguan is in the millions of dollars (which is impossible anyway). Inoue can also be considered a dangerous opponent at this point.
I’m not suggesting Ancajas go on “cherry picking” mode or fight inferior opposition because that would not boost his stock.
From The Ring rankings, he can first take on the likes of Yafai the World Boxing Association titleholder and Concepcion.
Ancajas winning another title belt at the division, however, will make him a prime target for Gonzalez and Inoue, both titleholders. It looks like there is no easy way to the top for Ancajas in the super flyweight division.