by Cliff Rold
Debate the competitive merits of boxing various belts all day. It’s a valid conversation. Their economic and life impacts remain.
Case in point: IBF 115 lb. titlist Jerwin Ancajas (27-1-1, 18 KO). The 25-year old won his belt just more than a year ago, dominating then-undefeated Puerto Rican Olympian McJoe Arroyo at home in the Philippines.
They fought in a room smaller that might not have been the size of a high school wrestling room.
Since then, the career of Ancajas has taken him around the world. Literally.
He’d fought in Macao before he won the title and made his first defense there. Next up was a trip to Australia where he was in a feature spot in front of the massive crowd that saw Jeff Horn upset Manny Pacquiao earlier this year. On Saturday, Ancajas gets his latest passport stamp.
Destination: Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The SSE Arena has been the site of some raucous recent crowds for Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett. Ancajas will play the visitor against local Jamie Conlan (19-0, 11 KO) in what could be a pleasing scrap. Conlan is a willing battler, if an underdog on paper.
Ancajas, who is promoted by Pacquiao, isn’t likely to replace the Filipino icon. He’s not as sensational, violent, or likely to grow through the ranks. Instead he is more like some other notable countrymen, men like Gerry Penalosa and current flyweight titlist Donnie Nietes.
Ancajas is smart, disciplined, and fundamentally sound. He’s also in an enviable position. Should he win again Saturday, he remains in the hunt for the big opportunities bursting at the seams in his weight division.
With eyes towards February, Jr. bantamweight (or Super Flyweight) will be in the spotlight again in a big way in the States. That looks like the target time for the Srisaket Sor Rungivisai’s mandatory WBC defense against Juan Francisco Estrada. WBO titlist Naoya Inoue may be back on the undercard.
Those are all names worth getting more passport stamps for.
Given HBO’s investment in the division, Ancajas can hope to see a stamp in the United States sooner than later. For so long as they remain interested in the class, and it may only be as long as it takes for someone to emerge and move up in weight to places US networks are more comfortable with, anyone with a major belt is a factor.
Given what has been seen of Ancajas to date, he might be more than just a factor. The southpaw appears to match up nicely with anyone in his class. A fight with Estrada would be a tough mental as well as physical match. Sor Rungvisai’s power and physicality versus the educated jab of Ancajas would be fun.
Inoue versus anyone with boxing gloves is likely going to be must watch for quite a few years to come.
Ancajas may have to travel many more times to fulfill his true potential but imagine how much fun that could be along the way. Not everyone gets the chance to see the world and get paid to do it.
Ancajas needs to take care of business with Conlan to make sure his trip isn’t cut short.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]