by Nick Giongco
OAKLAND — Criticized for his lackluster showing the last time, Jerwin Ancajas looks to score a performance worthy of turning detractors intoinstant followers Saturday when he defends the International Boxing Federation super-flyweight crown (IBF) for the sixth time at the Oracle Arena.
Admitting that his mandatory defense against fellow Filipino Jonas Sultan last May tarnished his otherwise fearsome reputation, Ancajas takes on wide-bodied challenger Alejandro Santiago of Mexico with a victory virtually assuring him of a meeting with one of the division’s top guns.
Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, whose Top Rank is staging the slugfest, has promised Ancajas that setting him up for a clash against the likes of Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai should proceed without a hitch.
But Ancajas insists that it is imperative that he puts on a show for interest in such a matchup to heat up.
“I got affected by those who said that I was not the fighter that they knew when I fought Sultan,” said Ancajas in Tagalog on Friday after stepping in at 114.2 lbs during the official weighin.
Though Ancajas dominated Sultan, he was not the explosive puncher who destroyed his opponents with the brutality of a cold-blooded assassin. Even lead trainer Joven Jimenez swears that his fighter’s stock took a major hit following the Sultan defense that he had to package Ancajas differently going into this fight.
“We beefed up his training with weight training and other programs aimed at boosting his power and speed,” said Jimenez.
Not only that, Jimenez insists.
For this training camp, travel to and from Magallanes, Cavite, and Manila, was limited to just a very few, unlike during the runup to the Sultan bout when Ancajas’ would miss training days just to attend to commitments in Manila.
“We hardly left camp,” added Jimenez, whose corner will also include Delfin Boholst, Roberto Jalnaiz, Todd Makelim, Kei Niraida and Mark Anthony Barriga.
Ancajas is so determined to make up for his failure to put away Sultan that he refuses to think of any other fighter except Santiago, who tipped in at 114.6 lbs.
“We are not taking anyone for granted, including Santiago, who we know will be looking to take my title,” said Ancajas (30-1-1 with 20 KOs).
Guiding Santiago (16-2-4 with seven KOs) will be Romulo Quirarte, who had trained many of Mexico’s revered fighters, including Julio Cesar Chavez.
While he has largely been dismissed as a sacrificial lamb, Santiago feels upbeat about his chances of putting an end to Ancajas’ two-year reign.
“I know what I can do and I will do my best to win the title,” said Santiago.