SADDENED to see Jonas Sultan challenge compatriot Jerwin Ancajas for his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight title on May 26 in Las Vegas, Games and Amusement Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra said the meeting was really destined to happen.
“For me it’s disheartening. We didn’t want to encourage Filipino to fight against Filipino, but we can’t stop it. Andiyan na,” said Mitra when asked about the Ancajas-Sultan title fight that has been originally scheduled for April 14 but was moved to a later date.
It will be the first all-Filipino world title match since 1925 when the legendary Pancho Villa beat Clever Sencio by unanimous decision for the world flyweight crown.
If there’s any silver lining that the GAB chairman sees, it’s the fact a Filipino will still bring home the bacon regardless the outcome of the fight.
“It’s a challenging day for Philippine boxing. It’s not very often that we have two Filipinos fighting for the world championship,” said the 48-year-old Mitra.
“And it would really bring out the best in the two,” he added. “The 115 (lbs.) is very tough. That’s the toughest, diyan pinakamaraming magaling na Pinoy, so it’s just right na Pinoy versus Pinoy. At least siguradong Pinoy pa rin ang champion.”
Sultan, 26, is the mandatory challenger to Ancajas’ IBF belt after beating former two-time world champion Johnriel Casimero by unanimous decision in a title eliminator match last year.
Mitra admitted having talked to both the Ancajas and Sultan camps, but failed to convince either group not to pursue it.
Even the option of compensating Sultan and his handler ALA Promotions with a step-aside fee didn’t work.
Mitra understood where the Cebu-based promotion is coming from.
“Mag step-aside (fee) ka (nga) pero mawawala nga naman yung opportunity (for a title shot),” he said.
“The challenger really wants to become a champion so you can’t stop him,” said the GAB official. “Ito namang si champion (Jerwin) hindi naman daw maganda na hindian niya yung number one challenger. So I don’t think we can stop that.”
Mitra, son of the late former House Speaker Ramon Mitra, said he won’t be watching the fight live in Las Vegas, but nonetheless, wishes both Filipinos the best of luck.