by Nick Giongco
STOCKTON, California – Ryuichi Funai and his handlers remain convinced that if they succeed against Filipino champion Jerwin Ancajas, they won’t get the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight crown on a silver platter this Saturday night.
“He is a very talented fighter,” said Funai, the mandatory challenger, said on Thursday, two days before his first fight outside his home country of Japan.
Tomoaki Takahashi, the chief trainer of the challenger, was at a loss when asked what he thinks is Funai’s advantage over Ancajas.
Instead of speaking, Takahashi demonstrated with his left hand what he feels is his fighter’s edge, raising his arms to show that Funai’s height as being the only one.
Funai holds a two-inch advantage over the 5-5 Ancajas, something his trainers are hoping would pose problems to the champion.
But Ancajas doesn’t mind facing someone who tower over him.
“Mas gusto ko nga ang kalaban na mas mataas sa akin,” said Ancajas, stressing that smaller foes are harder to hit and their exchanges oftentimes result to accidental headbutts.
After the press conference, those who attended the 45-minute long event all had the same observation.
Funai, older by six years at 33, looks shy and harmless, reasons why probably oddsmakers aren’t giving him too much of a chance to score an upset.
The line on the fight lists Ancajas as a 7-1 favorite.
However, Team Ancajas is not about to believe everything that’s being said about Funai, knowing that overconfidence has treacherous kick.
“We are not taking this fighter lightly,” said Ancajas’ manager and lead trainer Joven Jimenez, who is being joined here by a support group beefed up by an enthusiastic Filipino community and a small contingent from the Philippines that includes San Miguel Corporation executive George Alcantara.
Meantime, officials from the state of California will work Ancajas’ seventh defense.
Ed Collantes of San Francisco will be the third man on the ring while the three judges are Jonathan Davies of Anaheim, Daniel Sandoval of Fontana and Kermit Bayless of Hayward, the twin brother of renowned referee Kenny.
The fight supervisor will be Anibal Miramontes of Srpingfield, New Jersey.
Collantes will receive $1,600 as referee while the judges are guaranteed $1,300 apiece. The supervisor will be paid $1,000.
The Ancajas-Funai world title match will open the TV broadcast of Top Rank on ESPN at 7 pm (Pacific time).