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Ancajas not taking Rodriguez lightly in first title defense

Photo by Ryan Songalia
Fighters Network

MANILA, Philippines – As training camp winds down, IBF junior bantamweight titleholder Jerwin Ancajas says he isn’t taking his opponent lightly ahead of his first title defense on Jan. 29.

The southpaw from Panabo City, Philippines will face Mexico’s Jose Alfredo Rodriguez at Studio City Casino in Macau, China. Rodriguez, 27, is the No. 15 ranked contender with the IBF and has won three straight following a nearly two-year layoff and a stretch of incurring four losses over five fights.

My next opponent is really good. He is a veteran and really has the strength, so we are not taking things for granted,” the southpaw Ancajas (25-1-1, 16 knockouts) said.

Ancajas has switched from his home base in Imus, Cavite in the Philippines to Lipa City, Batangas, where he is tapering down his preparations before leaving for Macau on Jan. 24.

Joven Jimenez, the trainer/manager of Ancajas, also recognizes the danger of underestimating Rodriguez (32-4, 19 KOs), who had come up on the losing end against top fighters Alberto Rossel, Kazuto Ioka and Milan Melindo, and a decision loss to Mexican journeyman Valentin Leon.

“You cannot take for granted veteran boxers. (Rodriguez) is very good; he already has that timing and Mexicans, they are tough. They will really give it a good fight. So yes, he is a threat to Jerwin,” said Jimenez.

The 25-year-old Ancajas, who is rated No. 8 by THE RING at 115 pounds, crashed the world scene last September, outfighting McJoe Arroyo to a unanimous decision victory for the title. Ancajas has good reason to be enthusiastic about this fight, as he’s making a career-high $40,000 for his first defense after having made just $3,750 for his most recent fight, minus deductions.

Ancajas, who bought his father a home in his home province of Davao del Norte with an estimated $10,000 bonus from his promoter Manny Pacquiao after the Arroyo fight, says he’ll buy a home for himself, his partner Ruth and their two sons with this paycheck, as well as another home for his mother, who lives in Pacquiao’s hometown of General Santos City.

Asked about a potential clash with Roman Gonzalez, the undefeated RING pound-for-pound champion and WBC junior bantamweight titleholder, Ancajas said that fight is one of his dreams.

“That is one of my dreams because there are a lot of fighters seeking to challenge Roman. Hopefully, I’ll be given a chance to fight him,” said Ancajas.

“Even if there is no plans yet for a fight against Roman, we have plans of how to defeat him.”

The fight will be shown on beIN Sports Espanol on tape delay, according to ESPN, but will not be shown in the Philippines.

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to THE RING magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RyanSongalia.

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