CHICAGO - Monday, March 16, was just another work day in the busy calendar of boxing coach and trainer Joven Jimenez.
At about 9 a.m., as he and his prized pug, IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, were about to head to an undisclosed location to put in another round of training, the phone rang.
Sean Gibbons was on the line. Usually the bearer of good news, the president of Manny Pacquiao Promotions had something unfortunate to relay.
Ancajas' ninth title defense penciled on April 11 at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas has been shelved until further notice.
It's a punch in the gut kind of ouch. A knockdown, but not a knockout.
Following the Taal volcano eruption last January, Team Ancajas has been running away from disaster, but disaster keeps finding them. After having escaped the lava and the dangerous ashes, they couldn't avoid the disrupting wrath of the deadly corononavirus pandemic.
So instead of leaving from Manila direct to Las Vegas this March 20, Jerwin and Joven moved from Makati back to their Survival Camp in Cavite the other day, an inconvenience that was eased by the assistance of Big Boss Cement top honcho Gilbert Cruz and FOIC Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo of the Philippine Navy.
Unfortunately for Team Ancajas, there is experience to draw from while confronting this latest setback.
A scheduled fight last November 2 in Carson, California was canceled after Jonathan Javier Rodriguez, the same challenger Ancajas was supposed to fight this April 11, encountered visa problems.
After a 35-day furlough, Ancajas went on to defend his belt for the ninth time by scoring a 6th-round stoppage over Miguel Gonzalez at the BNP Seguros Auditorio in Puebla, Mexico.
But as the claws of this wildly spreading disease continues to have a suffocating stranglehold in all of sports, this recent postponement could linger longer.
"If things go right, I think best case is June," Gibbons told SPIN.ph.
It tells you how dire things are when Gibbons. a gifted "mechanic" couldn't make a quick fix. Apparently, coronavirus is Gibbons' kryptonite.
Meanwhile, Pretty Boy ain't just sitting pretty.
The 28-year old champ's training will continue with Jimenez dictating the pace in a way that would keep Ancajas sharp while nutritionist Jeaneth Aro will continue to monitor food intake.
THE WEIGHT. "Nasa 130 nakaraang po. Paakyat kami sa 135 pounds," (He is at 130 now and climbing up slowly to 135 pounds) Jimenez said of Jerwin's weight.
Breakfast constitutes a combination of eggs, rice, kamote or saba. Lunch and dinner features rice, sinigang manok or nilagang baka with vegetables and fruits,
While Jerwin isn't feasting like King Farouk, he clearly ain't starving, either.
"Importante sa ngayon na ma-maintain ang kalusugan ni Jerwin para hindi bumaba and resistensya at hindi magkasakit," (What's important now is for Jerwin to maintain his nutrition and avoid getting sick) Joven explained.
THE WAIT. After what happened last November, Jimenez and Ancajas have both embraced the fact that cancellations and postponements are a part of any sport.
But it's how you deal with it the spells the difference between success and failure.
"Laging handa kami sa lahat na mga pangyayari. Kaya po si Jerwin madaling maka tanggap ng sitwasyon. Focus lang kami sa training palagi para hindi masira ang condition po niya," (We're always ready for anything that comes and that is why Jerwin was quick to accept the situation and focus on training and staying conditioned) Jimenez said.
To avoid being burned out, Jimenez and Ancajas have agreed to lessen the volume and intensity of training/ Which means it's still going to rock at Survival Camp. but a slow rock it will be.
Jimenez thanked the fans for their continued support for Team Ancajas.
"God is great," he said, convinced that ultimately, we will all get through this health crisis.
From his lips to my ears, amen.