Jerwin Ancajas gets spotlight of a lifetime on Pacquiao-Horn card
BRISBANE, Australia – Manny Pacquiao isn't the only Filipino boxer trying to leave Brisbane with a world title.
Right before Pacquiao steps between the ropes to defend his WBO welterweight title against Jeff Horn, Pacquiao's compatriot Jerwin Ancajas will make his second defense of the IBF junior bantamweight title against mandatory challenger Teiru Kinoshita of Japan.
It's an astronomical leap in exposure for Ancajas, who won the title last year in a mostly empty gymnasium in Taguig, earning the IBF minimum $3,750 purse for beating McJoe Arroyo to win the title without television coverage. Ancajas used that purse to buy his father – a former banana plantation worker – a home.
Ancajas defended the title successfully earlier this year in Macau against Jose Alfredo Rodriguez with a seventh-round stoppage, but again there was no TV coverage.
This time, Ancajas will have a live audience of thousands, plus millions in the United States watching in primetime on ESPN. The fight card will be beamed to 150 countries around the world, according to the show's promoter Duco Events, while Michael Koncz of MP Promotions, which promotes Ancajas, says Ancajas-Kinoshita will be shown on GMA in the Philippines.
In essence, he'll get to wear Pacquiao's cape for the Filipino fans before they play "Thunderstruck." Ancajas will make a career-high $60,000 for this fight, his manager-trainer Joven Jimenez tells Rappler. He bought a home in his hometown of Panabo City, Davao del Norte, Philippines after his last fight, and plans to buy one in Cavite where he trains after this fight.
"It will be my first time to fight with that many people watching," said Ancajas (26-1-1, 17 knockouts). He's promoted by Pacquiao, and had fought once previously on Pacquiao's undercard in 2014 when the latter fought Chris Algieri in Macau. This time they'll both be defending their titles.
"Jerwin's a great fighter, he's a great kid. He's dedicated, motivated," said Koncz.
"He reminds me of Manny somewhat when he was younger."
Ancajas is one of just 4 current Filipino world champions, and at 25 is the youngest of that group. His technical style is more akin to Donnie Nietes than Pacquiao, but he's grown in confidence in recent years, developing his right jab into a formidable weapon while cultivating a strong body attack to go along with his relentless combination punching.
Being in Brisbane means having top promoters Bob Arum of Top Rank and Dean Lonergan of Duco Events at ringside to observe his skills, and to meet Irish Olympic star Mick Conlan, posing with the birds up finger salute Conlan made his signature to protest the judging at the 2016 Olympics.
"[Ancajas] came up and said he wanted to take a photo with me. I was like 'I wanna take a photo with you,'" says Conlan, who will fight Jarrett Owen in a 6-round junior featherweight fight on the card.
"I've seen [Ancajas] and I've seen how he ended up winning the world title, it was special. He can bang, he's a good fighter."
It also means having the opportunity to get on the radar of the elite fighters at 115 pounds, particularly Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez and WBC titleholder Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who will rematch Gonzalez on September 9. Ancajas has dreamed of getting into that mix, along with the paydays and exposure on HBO that comes along with it.
"If he does a good performance for this fight I think many promoters will get to know him," said Jimenez.
First he'll have to get past Kinoshita (25-1-1, 8 KOs), a former Japanese super flyweight champion. His lone defeat came in 2014 to Zolani Tete – one of the sport's most overlooked champions – for the title Ancajas currently holds. Since then Kinoshita has won 6 straight against non-descript opposition, including two fighters making their debuts last year, while waiting out his mandatory shot as the highest ranked contender.
He's 31 years old, a southpaw from Osaka, and his record suggests he's not packing dynamite in his hands. Still many of boxing's most hardcore fans – partially out of hipster defiance – are calling this the fight of the night.
"We watched his matches on YouTube. We also studied his moves, how he moves," said Ancajas.
"I think Jerwin has a good opponent, very durable, I think this is a good fight," added Jimenez.
Another Filipino fighting on the card is Jonel Dapidran, a cousin of Pacquiao's on his mother's side who is fighting for the first time outside of the Philippines. Dapidran (8-1, 4 KOs) fights in the junior welterweight division and will face local fighter Brent Dames (5-3, 0 KOs) in a 6-rounder.
Ancajas is in great position to pick up the ball when Pacquiao puts it down in retirement. And Sunday may be the day when others recognize that.
"I will give my best in this fight because other Filipinos will be able to watch my fight," said Ancajas. – Rappler.com