JERWIN Ancajas is eyeing to get back in the mix of top fighters in the super-flyweight division and he knows a victory over tough Mexican Jonathan Rodriguez would be one fast way to do that.
The 29-year-old Filipino returns to the ring for the first time in more than a year as he stakes his International Boxing Federation (IBF) title against Rodriguez on Sunday (Manila time) at the Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort in Connecticut.
Ancajas (32-1-2, 22 KOs) was all business on the eve of the 12-round fight after easily making the weight during the official weigh-in held early Saturday morning.
The pride of Panabo, Davao Del Norte came in at 114.8 lbs. while the 25-year-old challenger from San Luis Potosi weighed in at exactly 115 lbs.
Making the ninth defense of his title, Ancajas, who has been IBF champion since 2016, said a good performance and a victory over Rodriguez will hopefully se him mentioned in the same breath as Juan Estrada, Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Rodriguez, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, considered the Big Three of the 115-lbs division.
“I want people to know my name,” he said during the press conference for the fight card promoted by the Premier Boxing Championship (PBC) on Friday. “Everybody always talks about Estrada, Chocolatito, and Rungvisai. So that’s why I’m excited to have this opportunity to showcase my skills and challenge those guys.”
But Rodriguez (22-1, 16 KOs) is looking forward to making a name for himself, too, and win a world title for the first time after waiting for more than a year to get a shot at Ancajas.
The bout has been almost two years in the making as it was originally penciled in November 2019, only to be cancelled at the last minute after Rodriguez failed to secure a US visa for the Carson, California fight.
It was later reset to April of last year in Las Vegas, but again had to be put in the backburner following the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In between, Ancajas managed to defend his title in December two years ago by scoring a sixth-round stoppage of Miguel Gonzalez of Chile in Mexico. It was to be the Filipino’s last appearance in the ring.
Rodriguez hasn’t fought since his showdown with Ancajas was postponed. His last bout was a technical knockout win over Jimson Garcia of Venezuela in October 2019.
But Ancajas is more than determined to show he’s the superior fighter against Rodriguez as he believed he belongs to the division’s elite fighters.
“I’m looking to win on Saturday night and I want to fight whoever is left after the four-man tournament between Rungvisai, Chocolatito, Estrada, and (Carlos) Cuadras,” he said.
“I’m always calling the name of any titleholder in my division, so I would fight (Kasuto) Ioka, too. I want signature fight because I’m tired of people criticizing me for not fighting anybody.
“A lot of people will be watching on Saturday night so I want to make a great statement so that my name can still be in the mix with all of those guys.”