Jerwin Ancajas is fighting not only for personal glory but also for the state of boxing in the country.
The reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight champ gets his motivation from the dwindling number of Filipino world champions as he defends his crown against Mexican Israel Gonzalez on February 3 at the Bank of America in Corpus Christi, Texas, USA.
After the loss of Milan Melindo to Ryoichi Taguchi of Japan for the World Boxing Association (WBA) light flyweight belt last December 31, the country is now left with only two world champions in Ancajas and IBF flyweight champion Donnie Nietes.
“Not only that this is my first fight in the US, this fight is very important because there are many Filipinos who are hoping that I can defend my title. We are now lacking in Filipino world champions that’s why I’m really motivated (to defend my title),” Ancajas, 26, told The Manila Times.
“This fight is also for Philippine boxing and I don’t want another Filipino world champion to lose his title,” added Ancajas, who is carrying a 28-1-1 win-loss-draw record with 19 knockouts.
Nietes is also set to defend his title against Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina at the Forum in Inglewood, California on February 24.
Last July 2, eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao surrendered his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt to Australian Jeff Horn via controversial unanimous decision in Brisbane, Australia.
While a number of Filipino champs have lost their titles, Ancajas was able to defend his belt three times, with the recent, a sixth round technical knockout victory over Irish Jamie Conlan last November 18 in Belfast, Ireland.
And the Panabo, Davao del Norte native expects the fight against Gonzales (21-1 record with eight knockouts) to be a tough one.
“As of now, I am working on adding speed and power to my punches. We don’t have a fixed strategy yet since we haven’t seen his (Gonzalez) other fights. We only saw one tape and he fights with discipline,” said Ancajas.
“I also expect a large number of supporters for him since Texas is near the US-Mexico border but I’m sure there are also Filipinos there who will support me.”
JOSEF T. RAMOS