FRESNO, CALIFORNIA - The champion has arrived and so did the challenger.
Time to make history.
International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight title holder Jerwin Ancajas and countryman Jonas Sultan arrived in this California City one after the other on Monday afternoon (Tuesday, Manila time) for their historic championship showdown on Saturday at the Save Mart Center here.
Ancajas and his 14-man entourage were the first to arrive at the Courtyard-Marriot hotel following an almost four-hour drive from Redondo Beach in Los Angeles aboard a three-van convoy.
Less than an hour later, Sultan and his three-man crew that included three-time world champion Donnie Nietes, followed suit and checked in at the same hotel that serves as the official home of the National Football League (NFL).
Both the champion and challenger were welcomed by Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels.
Ancajas and Sultan, both 26, declared themselves ready for the first-ever world title fight between two Filipinos since Pancho Villa beat Clever Sencio for the world flyweight crown in 1925 in Manila.
"Handa na po sir. Lahat ng kakayahan ko sa boksing ilalabas ko," said the reigning champion, who was dressed in an all-black track suit worn over a white t-shirt that has his nickname 'Pretty Boy' printed across the chest.
The mandatory challenger came in wearing a blue denim and red shirt covered by ALA Boxing's patented black jacket with the Philippine flag emblazoned on it.
"Ito naman po ang pangarap ng lahat ng boxers, ang lumaban at manalo ng world championship," said Sultan, a native of Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte.
Prior to his team's departure, Sultan sweated it out for the last time at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood with trainers Edito and Edmund Villamor before finally breaking camp.
In contrast, Ancajas put in an hour's workout here with trainer Joven Jimenez, and former national team standouts Bobby Jalnaiz, Delfin Boholst, and Mark Anthony Barriga after a brief rest upon their arrival.
"Papawis lang naman," said Jalnaiz, adding Ancajas is just five pounds over the 115-pound limit.
International match-maker Sean Gibbons said the final press conference for the fight will be on Wednesday and the official weigh-in set on Friday.
Incidentally, Ancajas chanced upon World Boxing Organization (WBO) counterpart Khalid Yafai of Great Britain at the hotel lobby when his team arrived.
Yafai will be defending his title against David Carmona in the co-featured match in the May 26 fight card.
Ancajas and Yafai had their photo taken together, with a possible unification bout looming in the horizon should the two hurdle their respective opponents.