We've got an all-Filipino boxing world title fight in the offing for the first time in 93 years, as Davao del Norte native Jerwin Ancajas is set to defend his IBF world super flyweight crown against Zamboanga del Norte's Jonas Sultan on May 27 (Manila time) in Fresno, California. The last one went down in 1925 when the great Pancho Villa staked his world flyweight belt against Clever Sencio, which resulted in the former handily beating his inexperienced challenger. A couple of Pinoy encounters that were dubbed as "world-championship" bouts followed, but neither involved universally recognized champions, such as Villa and Ancajas.
Aside from its historical significance, Ancajas vs Sultan is also a big deal considering what's on the line for both fighters. For the champ, losing his belt means relinquishing his shot at superstardom, and as for the challenger, facing Ancajas could very well be his final chance to break through to the next level. This fight actually reminds us of Manny Pacquiao's 1999 bout against Reynante Jamili. Both were hot local prospects gunning for international success. Of course, it was Pacquiao who prevailed and went on to make history, while Jamili wound up as a boxing journeyman.
So, who's going to be like Pacman and who's going to be forgotten in this tiff? To answer the question, first we've got to look at the main strengths of the combatants going into this fight.
JERWIN 'PRETTY BOY' ANCAJAS (29W–1L–1D–20KOs)
When the bell rings on May 27, the champ will definitely be the more composed and ring savvy boxer. He has fought more times and certainly faced more types of fighting styles than the challenger. Ancajas' signature wins over Jamie Conlan in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Teiru Kinoshita in front of a massive crowd in Brisbane, Australia, and Israel Gonzalez as a co-main attraction in Texas, USA are more than enough proof of how seasoned and ready he is for the bright lights against whoever, wherever.
The pride of Panabo, Davao del Norte is known for his surgical approach as he breaks down his opponents, due to his terrific command of the sweet science. Although, he’s got moves akin to the Pambansang Kamao's, which are quite unorthodox, the 5'6" stylist, for the most part uses his hands and feet like a straight-A student of boxing's fundamentals. As a result, Ancajas can read, time, and pounce on his foes' mistakes en route to securing a definitive victory.
JONAS 'ZORRO' SULTAN (14W–3L–9KOs)
If Zorro's got any advantage over Pretty Boy, it has to be in the power department. You could see it in Sultan's 5'4" frame as he looks like a little tank. He can put people down with a single blow courtesy of his straight and sometimes slightly overhand right. Watch Sultan vs Oliveros and see for yourselves how devastating of a puncher the guy is. Don't fall for the goofy nickname, Sultan’s heavy right hand is no joke. Unlike Jerwin who usually relies on combinations to score KOs, Jonas possesses that dangerous one-punch knockout power.
Another one of Sultan's best assets is his tenacity. He's got a busy jab and he's always on attack mode, constantly looking to score points. His relentlessness might just guide him to victory, like it did when he bested former world titleholder John Riel Casimero, if either of these two scenarios takes place: first, if the judges would favor perpetual aggression over Ancajas' methodical strategy, and second, if Sultan's offense would snowball into an avalanche that even a boxer of Ancajas' caliber won't be able to handle.
Who's likely to win?
Now that we know what these two Pinoy pugs bring to the table, we've got to say that the champion is the clear favorite. We believe Ancajas' experience and technical proficiency inside the ring trump Sultan's edge in power and aggression. In case you forgot, all four of Jerwin's title defenses ended in stoppages, meaning the champ has a tremendous pop in his fists as well. Now, top that with having Gerry Peñalosa's ability to think two steps ahead of his adversary and it's bad news for Jonas. After four or five rounds, we'll probably witness Ancajas having a counter punch in place for every time Sultan would launch an assault. We're expecting a competitive bout but nevertheless it should end with the champ winning convincingly. And not to be dismissed, Ancajas found out he's going to be a dad soon, so he should be extra motivated to take home the W.
Who should you root for?
You really can't pick between the two. Sultan is an underdog trying to work his way up as he vies for respect and further recognition in the boxing world. On the other corner is Jerwin Ancajas, the world titlist who fought his way out of poverty and is probably the most down-to-earth champion in all of sports. After knocking out Israel Gonzalez, Jerwin was asked in the postfight interview whether or not he wants to face the other champions in his division, part of his reply was, "Tinuturing ko po na ako yung pinakamababa sa kanila (other champions) kaya po talagang pinagsisikapan ko na makasabay." Man if that attitude doesn't win you, you're one cold-hearted, cold-blooded, villainous creature. Perhaps, the better question would be is what should we root for in this fight? Well, one, we wish that both fighters would leave the ring safely and two, we want them to perform at the highest level so no matter the outcome, their stocks would still be on the rise. On that note, good luck to both of them!