Aggressive Argentine ends Ancajas’ long IBF reign
Dreaming of landing a big fight for the megabucks, Jerwin Ancajas found a big loss instead, suffering a unanimous decision defeat to a little-known Argentine who had the fierceness and aggression worthy of the mean badger streak on his hair.
Nicknamed “Pretty Boy” for his good looks and boxing finesse, Ancajas fell into a trap on Sunday, choosing to drop his game style to fight Fernando Martinez toe-to-toe in an all-out brawl that turned out very much right down the Argentine’s alley.
Fighting like former champ Marcos Maidana who now trains him, Martinez unloaded punches in bulk, landing 427 out of 1,046 thrown to pull off the stunning upset and wrest the International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior bantamweight championship.
“I learned a lot of lessons tonight,” said Ancajas via an interpreter during the postfight interview where he also reiterated his intention to exercise the rematch clause stipulated on the fight contract.
“If ever we fight again, I promise to do better because now I know Martinez is a very good fighter,” said Ancajas. The fight was the Filipino’s Las Vegas debut under top boxing brands Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), staking the belt that he has held since 2016.
And it was supposed to be a breakout match for the Filipino, who has been aching to fight A-list boxers in the 115-pound division which is teeming with certified crowd drawers like Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Before locking in the fight deal, MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons even floated the name of Japanese star Kazuto Ioka for Ancajas’ entry to the big stage in the summer.
But as fate would have it, MP Promotions once again failed to hook him up with any of the big names. So Ancajas agreed to stake his belt that he has successfully defended nine times before, this time against Martinez who wasn’t even in his radar prior to the fight at The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino.
And that proved costly.
Turned out Martinez—ranked 11th in IBF junior bantam—fought like his life depended on this one fight and was the one who proved himself to the world while dedicating everything to his deceased father.
“It hurts so much that my father is not here for this great moment in my life,” said Martinez. “I know he oversaw this. I haven’t fallen to earth yet. This was my dream since I was 11 years old. Before the fight I would ask myself what it would be like to bring the belt home to my mom in Argentina. I made that dream come true.”
Taking the show in the boxing mecca for the first time in his career, Ancajas committed yet another misstep when he engaged Martinez (14-0-8) in a punching derby only to realize that he was facing somebody far more talented than everyone he fought in the past.
Known more for his suave, seamless movements, Ancajas ad-libbed and attempted to test his punching ability as well as his jaw toughness. He managed to keep up, slamming Martinez with enough bombs to fend off the barreling Argentine.
But safe to say, Ancajas has never been roughed up in his entire career like what the Argentine dealt him, that by the 10th round, referee Jack Reiss checked on how he was doing after all the punishment he was taking.
Ancajas connected on 192 of his total 818 punches thrown. In landing power punches, Martinez outpointed him by a wide margin (421-170), according to CompuBox.
“I’d like to thank PBC for this opportunity to fight here. This is the best for me. It’s my dream. And I’m proud to fight a challenger who is very good. It was a tough fight for me,” added Ancajas. INQ
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