Judging from the way he won the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight (115 pounds) title and defended it for the first time, Jerwin ‘Pretty Boy’ Ancajas is on his way to becoming the next best all-around talent in Philippine pro boxing.
The 25-year-old Ancajas captured the IBF plum last September when he thoroughly dominated the previously unbeaten Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo in Taguig City. Ancajas displayed a lot of ring smarts and a well-rounded offense to pitch a shutout win over Arroyo. Just last January 29, Ancajas showed that the win over Arroyo was not a fluke as he again displayed his bag of tricks to register an eighth round technical knockout victory over Mexican Jose Alfredo “Torito” (Little Bull) Rodriguez at the Cotai Arena in Macao.
Rodriguez is no stranger to local fight fans, having fought Milan Melindo at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City in November 2013. Melindo outboxed Rodriguez in 12 rounds to retain the World Boxing Organization (WBO) International flyweight title. Rodriguez fought just once more after losing to Melindo before dropping out of the boxing radar in 2015. He returned to the ring in 2016 and won three straight fights to secure the title shot against Ancajas.
Rodriguez tried to pressure and bully his way to victory, but Ancajas, a skilled boxer like Melindo but without Milan’s height and reach handicap, easily sidestepped the Mexican’s assaults. Ancajas repeatedly frustrated Rodriguez with his staple right jab-left straight combination. In the fifth round, Ancajas hurt Rodriguez with some mean right hooks to the body. Ancajas apparently hurt his left hand early in the fight which explains why he started favoring the right hand. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, Ancajas’ right hook proved to be a potent weapon, too.
Rodriguez’s mounted a rally in the sixth stanza and briefly nailed Ancajas on the inside. But Ancajas was too smart to mix it up; by the end of the round he was befuddling Rodriguez with his movements and peppering the Mexican anew with sizzling right hooks.
During the rest period between the seventh and eighth rounds, the ringside doctor approached the corner of Rodriguez to check his condition. Rodriguez pointed to his right shoulder and tried to shake off the pain. When it became clear that Rodriguez was in no shape to continue, referee Roberto Ramirez Sr. pulled the plug and declared Ancajas the winner by eighth round technical knockout.
Ancajas raised his record to 26-1 with 17 knockouts. The IBF champ has not lost a fight since dropping a majority decision to countryman Mark Anthony Geraldo in 2012. Ancajas has won his last 13 fights, 12 within the distance.
Skill-wise, Ancajas offers a plethora of moves and punches in the ring. He moves well, owns a reliable right jab and a solid left straight. He showed in the Rodriguez fight that his right hook is also reliable when activated for duty. In my unofficial scorecard, Ancajas dominated all seven rounds against Rodriguez, with the sixth round being the closest. “Nahirapan din ako,” Ancajas humbly told this writer after the fight. “Desperado din kasi ‘yung kalaban na manalo.”
Ancajas is one of four reigning champions in the 115-pound division, the most prominent being undefeated (46-0, 38 knockouts) World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez of Nicaragua. Ancajas minced no word in expressing his desire to meet Gonzalez, the recognized pound-for-pound king of boxing today. While there is no doubt that Ancajas has the skills, he needs additional seasoning before pursuing such a dream fight. Rodriguez clearly did not belong in the same ring with Ancajas and the Filipino right now needs to raise the bar in terms of quality of opposition to jack up his market value. It’s a good thing though that Ancajas is just approaching his prime and his arsenal, though already impressive, can still accommodate a few upgrades.
* * *
For comments, the writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.