by Nick Giongco
STOCKTON, California – Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum has already lined up a big fight down the road for Filipino southpaw Jerwin Ancajas, who risks his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight crown against Ryuichi Funai of Japan on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila) at the Stockton Arena.
“I’ve discussed it with Sean Gibbons,” said the 87-year-old Arum, whose Top Rank outfit has Ancajas under contract.
Gibbons is Ancajas’ official representative and a deal to fight unbeaten Andrew Moloney of Australia should take place in September or October if Ancajas gets past Funai.
Ancajas (30-1-2 with 20 KOs), however, is not looking past Funai (31-7 with 22 KOs) and is focused on the task at hand.
During Friday’s official weighin, Ancajas came in at 114.2 lbs, while Funai stepped in at 114.4. The division limit is 115 lbs.
A lean Ancajas flexed his muscles after conquering the scales as his two-month diet program under nutritionist Jeaneth Aro finally came to a conclusion.
Aro was right there and rewarded the 27-year-old from Mindanao a huge serving of meat spaghetti which Ancajas wolfed down with ease moments after the crucial pre-fight ritual.
“Maganda ang pakiramdam ko at naniniwala ako na makapagbigay ng maganda ang laban (I feel great and I believe that I will be able to give a good fight),” said Ancajas, who refused to issue a prediction.
Head trainer Joven Jimenez is positive that Ancajas is bound to bounce back from a lackluster showing the last time in Oakland when he was held to a draw by Mexican Alejandro Santiago.
The people at Top Rank insist that the 33-year-old Funai’s standup style is just what the doctor ordered for the precision-punching Ancajas.
“He’s just right there and Jerwin should look good against him,” said matchmaker Brad Goodman, supremely confident that Ancajas will have no problems retaining the title he has held since Sept. 2016. The Funai showdown will be Ancajas’ seventh defense.
After taking the IBF diadem from McJoe Arroyo in the Philippines, Ancajas stopped Jose Alfredo Rodriguez of Mexico in Macau, halted Teiru Kinoshita of Japan in Brisbane, crushed Jamie Conlan of Northern Ireland in Belfast, mauled Israel Gonzalez of Mexico in Corpus Christi, tripped fellow Filipino Jonas Sultan in Fresno.
The near-loss to Santiago continues to hound Ancajas, who is raring to put it behind him.
If indeed Top Rank is spot-on in its prognosis, Ancajas is going to do just that.