CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – It seemed at first that Jerwin Ancajas had reached Nirvana when he finally stepped foot on American soil last week.
But even after checking off a major entry on his bucket list, the reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight king unintentionally replaced it with an even more daunting task.
“I would like to prove that I am the best in my division,” said Ancajas, who takes a giant step towards that realization when he risks the IBF 115-lb crown for the fourth time against Israel Gonzalez of Mexico this Saturday.
Still on cloud nine after arriving in Los Angeles from Manila late last week, Ancajas admitted that it was his dream to set foot in America and it was pure luck-– and destiny– that he had done so.
Some years back in Mindanao, Ancajas played five straight basketball games with friends and never thought something bad would happen.
“I suffered from cramps on my leg and it went up to my chest,” said Ancajas, his eyes lighting up and his voice hitting a crescendo.
Although he wasn’t alone in the house, Ancajas could not ask his father to bring him to the hospital.
“He just can’t because he’d suffered a stroke. It was physically impossible for him to carry me,” he said.
Good thing that his stepmother had just arrived from the market and she was the one who made it possible for Ancajas to be given medical treatment.
“I was told by the doctor that I was very fortunate that I survived,” he said, shaking his head.
“I really felt that he was telling the truth because I already felt my breathing was getting tighter and tighter.”
So, when Ancajas was warmly welcomed at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood by no less than a pair of Hall of Famers in Freddie Roach and Bob Arum, memories of that near-death experience came flashing back again.
“I was lucky,” Ancajas said, sounding as though everything that’s been happening, the treatment he’s receiving from Top Rank, is just a dream.
Surreal as it may seem, Ancajas is looking forward to the day when he checks off that one big entry on his to-do list.