Jerwin Ancajas on the phone with Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

Jerwin Ancajas draws inspiration from Manny Pacquiao
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 7, 2018 - 12:00am

CORPUS CHRISTI – It was Sen. Manny Pacquiao on the other end of the line and IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas asked for a pray-over during a brief overseas telephone call the morning of his fight against Mexican challenger Israel Gonzalez at the American Bank Center here Saturday night.

Ancajas slept at 8 p.m. the night before and woke up hungry at 3 a.m. the next morning. Official team cook Rodel Mayol, the former WBO lightflyweight champion who now lives in Los Angeles and joined the Ancajas team for the fight, prepared a medium-sized steak, tinolang manok and rice for Ancajas. But before the pre-dawn breakfast, MP Promotions’ Joe Ramos dialled Pacquiao’s number for a call.

“I cried when I spoke with Sir Manny,” said Ancajas in Pilipino. “He encouraged me, he inspired me. I asked for a pray-over. If I could fight even a little like Sir Manny, I would be very thankful.”

Pacquiao obliged Ancajas’ request and prayed for God to shower the fighter with wisdom, knowledge and understanding, to bless his body with strength and to protect him and Gonzalez from serious injury in the ring. Ancajas’ manager and trainer Joven Jimenez, Las Vegas matchmaker Sean Gibbons and Ramos were in Room 1509 of the Holiday Inn Downtown Marina when the call came through.

After the call, Ancajas ate his meal then slept until 6 a.m. An hour later, he went to the Omni Hotel a block away for the mandatory second IBF weigh-in. Under IBF rules, a fighter may scale only up to 10 pounds over the weight limit on the morning of a title bout. At the weigh-in the day before, a fighter must scale within the limit. Ancajas checked in at 114 3/4 pounds and Gonzalez, 114 at the weigh-in. In the morning, Ancajas tipped the scales at 123.6 and Gonzalez, 124.3, both within 10 pounds over the 115-pound limit. Ancajas then went back to his hotel room and ate some more, this time, chicken adobo, tinolang isda and rice. At the fight that night, he weighed about 130.

In the lockerroom an hour before the fight, Ancajas couldn’t put on his boxing shorts. There was a slight commotion as the waistband had tightened when a patch of sponsor Lucas Oil was sewn on. The stand-by second pair of shorts had the same problem. Mayol, Ancajas’ stablemate Mark Anthony Barriga and 1990 Beijing Asian Games gold medalist Bobby Jalnaiz stripped the patch off to bring back the waistband’s elasticity. Right there and then, Gibbons phoned his contact from Lucas Oil to explain the situation. Lucas Oil is a California company that manufactures automotive oils, lubricants and additives.

On the morning of the fight, Ancajas’ team battled another issue. The Texas State Athletic Commission required the adrenaline to be used in the corner for the fight to be in a sealed container. A Filipino employee at the Holiday Inn contacted a doctor, also a Filipino, in a local hospital to source the sealed adrenaline from the emergency room because drug stores wouldn’t dispense without a doctor’s prescription and it was a weekend. Ancajas’ cutman Todd Makelim brought the sealed adrenaline to the fight but had no use for it as the Filipino went through 10 rounds without a scratch.

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