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Ancajas risks IBF title today

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Jerwin Ancajas embarks on a journey Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila) the fast-rising Filipino star hopes will eventually put him on a pedestal near that of his long-time idol Manny Pacquiao.

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“I believe that I still have a lot to show and tomorrow’s fight will give me the chance to prove it,” said Ancajas during the official weighin Friday for his fourth defense of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight crown against Israel Gonzales of Mexico.

Since arriving in the US last week, non-stop comparisons with Pacquiao were always on the agenda of reporters who got to interview the 26-year-old Filipino.

Ancajas, though flattered with being called the next Pacquiao, admitted that accomplishing even half of what the eight-division champion has achieved, would make him a happy man.

Beating Gonzales at the American Bank Center will kick off Ancajas’ quest for stardom as the fight will be shown on American television during primetime.

A smashing victory over the tenth-ranked challenger should serve as a rousing introduction to US fight fans, who have become enamored with an endearing topic: poverty.

Ancajas also grew up in the same region in the southern Philippines where Pacquiao was raised where basic necessities were considered luxuries.

Both fought as a way to find a better life and Ancajas is on a mission to uplift the living conditions of his family in the same way Pacquiao did two decades ago.

In fact, before leaving for the US, Ancajas two young boys Kyrie and Kyle, named after NBA players, had complained to daddy that the toy bikes their father had bought for them were all busted up and beyond repair.

“I would like to buy them toys like (action figures of) Spiderman,” said Ancajas, who is making the fourth defense of the IBF 115-lb title he had captured in 2016.

“If I get the chance to go shopping in Los Angeles (next week), I will buy them some toys,” he said.

Despite being a world champion, Ancajas lives in a remote area in a province outside Mania where drinking water has to be delivered.

“The only water that we can get is not suitable for drinking but good enough for washing,” said Ancajas’ chief handler and trainer Joven Jimenez, referring to their place in Magallanes, Cavite.

It is for this reason why Ancajas has a burning desire to elevate his game and adding Gonzalez to his growing list of victims should pave the way for bigger fights down the road.

The first roadblock will be Gonzalez.