IT took a reminder about fighting for his country and family for Jerwin Ancajas to push through and survive the last-minute onslaught launched by Mexican challenger Jonathan Rodriguez during his last defense of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight championship at the Mohegan Sun Casino.
The 29-year-old Ancajas admitted he began tiring out by the 10th round of the bout that the champion was on the verge of collapsing in his very first outing for more than a year.
Good thing, trainer Joven Jimenez kept pounding at him and telling in between breaks the reason why he’s fighting in the ring.
“Sinabihan ako ni coach ‘itong round na ito, para sa buong Pilipinas,” recalled Ancajas about what Jimenez told him before the 11th round of the bout during the special awarding ceremony held by the Philippine Navy to honor one of their prominent reserves.
Came the final round, and it was all about his family and the sacrifices the champion had to endure for half a year of being away from them that Jimenez uttered in his ears.
“Last round, sinabihan ako ni coach, ‘itong round na ito para sa pamilya mo, pamilya natin, para sa mga anak mo, sa mga sumusuporta sa iyo. Ilang buwan tayo nag hirap sa training,’” were the last words of Jimenez to the long-time champion just as the 12th round was to begin.
Ancajas went on and scored a unanimous decision (115-112, 116-111, 117-110) against the tough Mexican to make the ninth successful defense of his 115-pound belt.
Although he scored a knockdown in the eighth round, Ancajas thought he wouldn’t be able to last against Rodriguez, who appeared to have gotten his second wind going home.
“Pinanood ko yung laban ko, mahina na pala ako at parang babagsak na. Isip ko lang pala ang malakas,” he said of the final three rounds.
“Ang natutunan ko sa laban na ito, mahaba ang laban, huwag ibuhos ang lakas. Kailangan mag-iwan dahil mayroon pang mga susunod na round,” he said. “Kaya panalangin ko sa Panginoon na palagi akong gabayan at patnubayan dahil mahaba pa ang labanan. At habang may buhay, hindi pa tapos ang laban.”
During the ceremony held at the Hall of Flags at the Navy headquarters, the pride of Davao Del Norte was presented the ‘Gawad sa Kaunlaran’ award by Commander of Naval Reserve Command, RADM Dorvin Jose Legaspi.
The Navy officer gave the award in behalf of Flag Officer in Command, Philippine Navy VADM Giovanni Carlo Bacordon.
The ‘Gawad sa Kaunlaran’ is the second highest distinction given by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to civilians and government officials in recognition of invaluable achievement in pursuit of socio-economic and other non-other combat activities.
Ancajas now owns a record of 33-2-1, with 22 KOs.