Sport

Ancajas waits for foe to step up

Ancajas waits for foe to step up

MANILA, Philippines — It’s getting more and more difficult for MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons to lock in an opponent for IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas’ eighth title defense. First, the talk was Australia’s Andrew Moloney would be the next challenger. Then, former WBC superflyweight titlist Carlos Cuadras’ name came up. Chile’s Miguel Gonzalez was another option. For some reason, negotiations to put a fight to bed with any of the three fighters fell through.

Gibbons said yesterday he’s now burning the lines to sign up unbeaten Alexandru Marin of Romania. Marin, 27, is trained by coach Bruce Babashan and former three-time WBA middleweight champion William Joppy at the Champion Boxing and Fitness Club in Rockville, Maryland. He has an 18-0 record with 11 KOs and holds the IBF/IBO Intercontinental belt in the 115-pound division.

Gibbons said the plan is to feature Ancajas in a triple world title card in Nevada in October. If WBC superflyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada hurdles challenger Dwayne Beamon in Mexico on Saturday, Ancajas will look for a unification duel, assuming he disposes of his next challenger whether it’s Marin or whoever. 

“That’s the fight Jerwin wants,” said Gibbons. “There’s talk that after Estrada beats Beamon, he’ll take on WBA champion Khalid Yafai late this year. If that happens, we’ll wait for the winner and by the first quarter of next year, Jerwin will be up for the biggest fight of his career. A Jerwin fight against Estrada is definitely a pay-per-view event and will bring back the intense boxing rivalry between the Philippines and Mexico.”

Ancajas’ trainer and manager Joven Jimenez said it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the ring. “Kaliwa o kanan, OK lang kay Jerwin,” said Jimenez. “Ready siyang lumaban maski kanino.”

Gibbons and Jimenez were at the Philippine Navy Headquarters on Roxas Boulevard yesterday morning to witness Ancajas’donning rites to formalize his promotion to Senior Chief Petty Office in the reserve unit. Certifying his new rank was Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad. Ancajas was given full military honors in the presence of his wife Ruth, their three children, friends and his team of sparmates.

Ancajas relocated to the Naval Education and Training Command base in San Antonio, Zambales, to open training camp two weeks ago. He motored to Manila early Sunday morning to attend yesterday’s donning ceremonies then returned to Zambales that afternoon.

Jimenez said Ancajas now walks around at 135 pounds but losing 20 pounds in two months to make the superflyweight limit isn’t a problem. Nutrition and conditioning specialist Jeaneth Aro continues to supervise his diet. Ancajas has started sparring in Zambales, completing eight rounds in two days with Abu Dhabi-based Pakistani superlightweight Usman Wazeer.

Marin captured two Romanian national titles on the way to posting a 150-10 amateur record then moved to Maryland in 2013. He’s known for his “bulldog fighter mentality.” Babashan described him as “a boxer-puncher with the ability to hurt and finish a guy but is extremely intelligent with a ring IQ that’s very high as a result of his youth coach in Romania.” Marin said his dream is to fight for a world title. “I usually take about three or four rounds before getting a knockout,” he said. “I like body shots, left hooks and right uppercuts.” For sure, Marin will be a test for Ancajas. At No. 3, Marin is the highest-ranked IBF contender since the No. 1 and No. 2 slots are vacant.