IT’S been a long time since Jerwin Ancajas last fought in the ring.
The defending International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight champion is spending the remaining days of his training in unusual conditions before facing Mexican challenger Jonathan Rodriguez on Sunday (Manila time) at the Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort.
Due to strict health protocols imposed by Premiere Boxing Champions (PBC) Promotions, Ancajas and his four-man entourage are holed up in their respective hotel rooms, where the champion and his trainer Joven Jimenez have been doing everything from shadow boxing, punching the mitts, all the way to monitoring the fighting weight of the 29-year-old Filipino.
All fighters, officials, and boxing personnel involved in the weekend fight card are billeted in the first floor of the famed casino hotel in Connecticut.
“Bawal lahat lumabas. Dito lang talaga sa hotel lahat ng gagawin mo,” said Jimenez, two days since arriving in the fight venue from Los Angeles. “Mahigpit sila. Para kayong nakakulong.”
The group of Ancajas, which also includes assistant trainer Brendan Gibbons and Filipino sparmate Jonas Sultan, also had to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at the hotel and observed a one-day quarantine period before yielding negative results.
“They were likewise tested before leaving from LA.
MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions president Sean Gibbons later joined the Ancajas camp.
“Iba na talaga ngayon. Pero maganda naman yung ginawa nila,” said Jimenez of the protocols, which included allowing only one person to stay in a room.
Ancajas (32-1-2, 22 KOs) last fought in December 2019 prior to the global pandemic, retaining his 115-lbs title belt with a sixth-round stoppage of Miguel Gonzalez of Chile in Mexico.
A makeshift gym has been constructed inside the elegant, 34-floor Mohegan Sun hotel that boasts of 1,563 rooms, for exclusive use of fighters, but Jimenez just opted to do their daily workouts inside the champion’s room.
“Meron din naman silang gym, pero dito na lang kami sa room. Ayaw na muna namin pumunta sa gym,” he said. “Dito lang kami sa kuwarto nagpapapawis.”
There are also scheduled food services for all fighters, trainers, and fight officials.
“May isang lugar na pagkukuhanan ng pagkain at may oras din,” said Ancajas’ trainer.
Fighters including Ancajas can jog and run around the open space parking lot of the hotel.
On Friday (Manila time), fighters had their pictorials in one particular area of the hotel, and later, held a round table discussion with members of the press.
Weigh-in is scheduled on Saturday.
“Lahat na dito ginagawa sa hotel, pati yung fight, para hindi na lahat lalabas pa,” said Jimenez.