UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Jerwin Ancajas couldn’t help but grin when Jonathan Rodriguez’s comments were relayed to him Thursday.
When informed Rodriguez expects “a true Filipino-Mexican war” with Ancajas on Saturday night, the IBF junior bantamweight champion admits that’s just the type of fight he wants, too. Ancajas’ trainer, Joven Jimenez, has transformed him into more of a boxer in recent years, but the Filipino southpaw was more of a brawler earlier in his career.
Mexico’s Rodriguez, the mandatory challenger for Ancajas’ championship, predicted Thursday that he’ll force Ancajas into a dogfight in the opener of Showtime’s three-bout broadcast from Mohegan Sun Arena (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT).
“I’m so happy he said that,” Ancajas told BoxingScene.com. “My style before is like Jonathan Rodriguez’s style. But everything changed because of my trainer. He advised me that I don’t wanna do that. He wants me to box. I’m prepared. I’m excited to brawl with Rodriguez because that was my style before. I want to show that I can also brawl, not just boxing. I want to make a good fight for the fans.”
The 25-year-old Rodriguez (22-1, 16 KOs) is inspired to change his life and the lives of his wife and two children by pulling off an upset against a long-reigning champion who is listed by most Internet sports books as at least an 8-1 favorite. Ancajas obviously has other plans, most notably 115-pound title unification fights against whomever emerges from fights involving WBA/WBC champ Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai or WBO champ Kazuto Ioka.
The 29-year-old Ancajas (32-1-2, 22 KOs) is in no way overlooking Rodriguez, however, despite that Rodriguez’s record has been built against a relatively low level of opposition.
“He’s hungry,” Ancajas said. “His style is a Mexican style. He wants to fight like a warrior. He wants to brawl. I am excited because this is a big challenge for me. It’s a hard fight for me because of my style and he’s hungry. That’s why I’m very focused for this fight.”
Ancajas will make his debut Saturday night for Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions. Ancajas’ former promoter, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., and Ancajas parted ways amicably in January, which allowed Ancajas to fight for PBC.
The Ancajas-Rodriguez fight first was scheduled for last April 11 in Las Vegas. That card was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ancajas returned to the Los Angeles area from the Philippines on October 1 to train. He’ll end a 16-month layoff when he makes his ninth title defense against Rodriguez.
“Every time I’m training, I always imagined that Rodriguez is in front of me,” Ancajas said. “I like that. I like the styles of Mexicans that brawl. I’m expecting him to make it a brawl.”
After Ancajas and Rodriguez go at it, Showtime will televise two 12-round fights that’ll feature undefeated, up-and-coming welterweights.
In the premium cable network’s co-feature, a WBA elimination match, Lithuania’s Eimantas Stanionis (12-0, 9 KOs) is set to oppose Puerto Rican veteran Thomas Dulorme (25-4-1, 16 KOs). Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs, 1 NC) and Kazakhstan’s Sergey Lipinets (16-1-1, 12 KOs) will square off in the main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.