FRESNO, CALIFORNIA – There were no fireworks, no heated exchanges between champion Jerwin Ancajas and challenger Jonas Sultan as they came face-to-face again two days before they make Philippine boxing history.
Oh, the two didn’t exchange handshakes when the ceremony was over.
The two failed to grasp each other’s hands as custom dictates by the end of Thursday’s press conference for their International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight championship bout over the weekend, and instead proceeded to the traditional stare-down between fighters that had cameras rolling and clicking away at the Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company here.
Ancajas and Sultan duke it out this Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) at the Save Mart Center in the first all-Filipino world championship fight in almost a century.
But the two remained courteous and respectful to each other as if they won’t be battering one another in a fight of historic proportions.
“Nakikita ko si Jerwin na magaling na boksingero. Mahirap na kalaban kaya pinag-aralan ko yung style niya,” said the 26-year-old Sultan, pride of ALA boxing gym and whose record stands at 14-3, with nine KOs.
“Kaya kailangan talaga hardwork sa training para mapantayan mo siya as a boxer,” he added.
Ancajas, also 26 and fighting out of Joven Sports, hasn’t fought a countryman in the last three years, or since scoring a first-round knockout of Paul Apolinario at the Bonifacio Naval station in Taguig.
And that he’s defending his IBF belt against a fellow Filipino makes the fight even doubly dangerous for him.
“For me, Filipino boxers fight with their heart. So I consider Filipino opponent to be difficult in the ring,” said Ancajas (29-1-1, 20 KOs) in the Visayan dialect.
The two Filipino fighters were joined on the makeshift stage by trainers Joven Jimenez (Ancajas) and Edito Villamor (Sultan) as well as some of the fighters seeing action in the undercard of the promotion put up by Top Rank, including World Boxing Association (WBA) title-holder Khalid Yafai, who will defend his belt against David Carmona.
Top Rank Promotions chairman Bob Arum flew all the way from his Las Vegas abode in time to join the short media conference.
“Jerwin Ancajas, who has performed brilliantly for us in his last few fights, against Jonas Sultan, who’s a terrific fighter, two Filipinos that are really going at it,” said Arum about the main event.