Wednesday, October 04, 2023  |



Title shot awaits Jerwin Ancajas if he gets past Wilner Soto

Ancajas poses for Showtime publicity photos. Photo from Team Ancajas
Fighters Network

Jerwin Ancajas did something Thursday that he usually doesn’t do before a fight. He ate.

After more than a decade of squeezing down to the 115-pound limit, the 31-year-old Ancajas will have his easiest weigh-in in a long time as he fights Colombian journeyman Wilner Soto in an eight-round bout at The Armory in Minneapolis, Minn. The bout will stream live on the Showtime Sports YouTube channel and Facebook page.

The Filipino southpaw had his most notable success at junior bantamweight, winning the IBF 115-pound title in 2016 and making nine successful defenses. He lost the belt to Fernando Martinez by unanimous decision in February of 2022, and dropped another decision to the ultra aggressive Argentinian in October. Now he’ll have a much easier weight cut, with the agreed-upon catchweight for the Soto fight being 121 pounds maximum.

“Now it is much easier to make the weight, and my conditioning is so good also. I’m still eating. When I was at 115, by Thursday I’m not talking, I’m not walking. But now I am smiling. Even if the fight is tomorrow I can fight,” said Ancajas (33-3-2, 22 knockouts), a native of Panabo City, Philippines who now lives and trains in Magallanes, Cavite, Philippines.

MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons, who promotes Ancajas, tells The Ring that, if Ancajas gets past Soto, the plan is for him to challenge Takuma Inoue for the WBA bantamweight title in Japan in November or December. The 27-year-old Inoue (18-1, 4 knockouts), who is the younger brother of the division’s former undisputed champion Naoya Inoue, won one of the belts his brother had vacated with a unanimous decision over Liborio Solis in April.

Inoue’s lone defeat came in 2019, when he lost a unanimous decision to then-WBC bantamweight titleholder Nordine Oubaali, a French southpaw with a style not unlike that of Ancajas.

Ancajas is currently the no. 8 rated contender at 118 pounds with the WBA.

Ancajas says he has seen one fight from the 32-year-old Soto, his fourth round stoppage to former champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev in 2019, and says he expects it to be a solid tuneup bout. Soto (22-12, 12 KOs) has lost his last six bouts, including a unanimous decision to former Ancajas victim Jonathan Rodriguez in his last bout in March.

“This fight I’m so excited because it’s been almost one year that I haven’t had a fight. Now I want to show that I’m still here, I’m still fighting and I want to show my skill this Saturday,” said Ancajas, who is trained by Joven Jimenez.

Ancajas had been in Las Vegas for the past 4-5 months to prepare for this bout, but he had more than his own bout on his mind during this time. Martinez (15-0, 8 KOs) will be making his second title defense against mandatory challenger Jade Bornea (18-0, 12 KOs) on the main Showtime Championship Boxing broadcast. Ancajas had taken an active role in helping his fellow Filipino Bornea prepare for his first ever world title opportunity, even switching to orthodox to spar with Bornea and help approximate the style of Martinez.

“Jade, his training and sacrifice and all that he does in the gym. He’s so great now, I’m confident that he can win this fight,” said Ancajas.

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].