Ancajas trainer keeps it real, gives champ a poor grade in title defense vs Sultan
Jerwin Ancajas celebrates the win with trainer Joven Jimenez. Alvin S. Go

FRESNO, CALIFORNIA –Jerwin Ancajas received a modest grade from his longtime trainer despite retaining his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight title with a win over Jonas Sultan inside 12 rounds.

Joven Jimenez said he rated Ancajas’ performance at six from a scale of 1 to 10, saying the champion didn’t have the same speed and snap in his punches unlike in previous title defenses.

Right from the onset, Jimenez already saw a different Ancajas in the ring.

“Napansin ko first round pa lang, nakita ko na yung bagal niya,” Jimenez admitted. “Natatakot ako sa kundisyon niya, iba yung dating (ng galaw) niya. Hindi ko rin maintindihan.”

“Hindi sharp yung suntok niya, walang diin.”

That explained well why the champion had to pace himself, and initially, tried to pile up the points against his fellow Filipino.

“Tinipid ko yung stamina niya,” stressed Jimenez. “Ayaw kong magbuhos siya, ayaw kong mag-wild siya kasi pag napagod siya, patay siya dun, tatalunin talaga siya.”

“Kaya round by round tinitipid ko yung stamina niya. Gusto ko lang puntusan, puntusan, puntusan.”

Ancajas went all out in the last two rounds against Sultan to pick up the pace of an otherwise lackluster fight.

“Doon ko na siya pinabakbak, para magandang panoorin yung laban,” said Jimenez.

The 26-year-old champion was more generous on himself, saying his performance deserved a seven.

Jimenez believed two major factors contributed to the listless showing of the champion.

He said training for the fight had no concrete direction as the title defense was originally scheduled on April 14 as an undercard to the Terrence Crawford and Jeff Horn welterweight title fight only to be moved a month later when the Crawford-Horn bout was postponed after the challenger suffered a hand injury.

Initially, the May 26 card was set in Las Vegas until it was transferred to Fresno in California.

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“Nag-peak na kami (sa training) kasi nung (April) 14 sana, nag 12-rounds na kami nun (sparring). Tapos bumaba ulit kami, nag dahan-dahan ulit kami,” said Jimenez.

“Kaya paputol-putol, walang direction yung training namin.”

And then there’s the growing number of distractions when one becomes a world champion.

“Siguro yung mga lakad-lakad din, kailangan siguro bawasan din namin,” said Jimenez, a former Philippine Navy member.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos