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Ancajas shoots for WBA ‘bantam’ crown

JERWIN Ancajas (right) is determined to emerge as the only Filipino world champion when he faces Takuma Inoue for the WBA bantamweight title on Saturday at the Tokyo Dome Hotel. | Photograph courtesy of WENDELL ALINEA

TOKYO, Japan — There was a moment of suspense when Jerwin Ancajas stepped on the scales Friday at the Tokyo Dome Hotel.

The Filipino southpaw, who challenges defending World Boxing Association bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue on Saturday night, had to strip down naked as he went a little over the 118-lb limit in his initial try.

In a desperate attempt to conquer the scales, Ancajas needed to remove his boxer brief while a white towel held by a Japanese boxing official had to be placed in front.

For a second or two, Ancajas and his handlers held their breath, fearing that he had to get rid of excess baggage and potentially harm his body.

Fortunately, the move paid off as Ancajas made the weight.

His weight: 117 3/4 lbs.

Moments before Ancajas’ turn, Inoue, wearing a shiny purple-colored underwear, easily made the weight, tipping in at 117 3/4.

Immediately after the weigh-in, Ancajas was escorted to an adjoining area so he could start rehydrating.

Firstly, he gulped a bottle of sports drink before feeding on a pasta and broccoli dish while some of his supporters as well as content creators began documenting Ancajas’ every move.

His face was a picture of relief given his history of having difficulties making weight.

But the battle is just half-won since he has to come up with a solid showing against Inoue, who will be making the first defense of the title he had won almost a year ago.

“I want to bring home the title. I want to become a world champion once more,” said Ancajas, who, at 32, stands to become a two-division champion following his six-year reign as International Boxing Federation super-flyweight ruler from 2016 until 2022.

Like Ancajas, Inoue is likewise determined to keep his stranglehold on the belt.

The younger brother of undisputed super-bantamweight king and pound-for-pound star Naoya, Takuma enters the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena with an 18-1 record with four knockouts.

Ancajas, who has a wealth of experience fighting overseas and even on hostile ground, carries a 34-3-2 mark with 23 knockouts.                 

Known for his ring savvy and power, Ancajas will have to score a win to keep himself relevant while a loss could mean the end to a colorful career.

But based on what he has done the past few months, Ancajas remains driven and motivated.

A victory will give the Philippines its only world boxing crown.

“It is something that keeps me going because Philippine boxing doesn’t have a world champion and I badly want to win one for my country,” Ancajas, who turned 32 last month, said.

Mark Nelson, who officiated the Manny Pacquiao vs Jeff Horn fight in Brisbane in 2018, will be the third man on the ring.

In case the fight goes the distance of 12 rounds, those tasked to score it are Kim Byung-moo of Korea, Luigi Boscarelli of Italy and Alex Levin of the United States.

And if it does, Ancajas insists he will make sure that he doesn’t give the judges any reason to think twice about not scoring in his favor.

“I plan to be dominant and win every round,” Ancajas said.

But Ancajas swears he won’t hesitate about closing out the show any time.

“If I see an opening, I will go for a knockout.”


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