Funai next for Ancajas

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Funai next for Ancajas
Las Vegas-based matchmaker Sean Gibbons, who flew in with WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao from Los Angeles last Thursday, is in town to finalize the deal with Ancajas and Funai.

MANILA, Philippines — IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas is set to make the seventh defense of his crown against mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai of Japan and it appears the fight will be in the undercard of a main event featuring either WBA lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko or WBO welterweight ruler Terence Crawford.

Las Vegas-based matchmaker Sean Gibbons, who flew in with WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao from Los Angeles last Thursday, is in town to finalize the deal with Ancajas and Funai. Gibbons said the plan for Ancajas to battle WBC counterpart Srisaket Sor Rungvisai fell through when Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn offered a princely sum to arrange a rematch between the Thai and former WBA/WBO flyweight king Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico.

Ancajas is contracted for three more fights with Top Rank. Last September, Hearn teamed up with Perform Group’s live and on-demand streaming service DAZN (pronounced Da-Zone) to stage 16 fights in the US and UK each over eight years in a $1 Billion deal. Hearn’s stable includes WBA superflyweight champion Khalid Yafai, Amir Khan and Canelo Alvarez who signed a five-year, 11-fight contract for $365 Million. The speculation is Hearn will produce a superflyweight series involving Yafai, Rungvisai and possibly WBO titlist Donnie Nietes to determine a unified WBA/WBC/WBO champion. Ancajas is out of the DAZN loop because of his contract with Top Rank.

Gibbons said he hopes to confirm the date and venue for Ancajas’ next fight this coming week with Top Rank general counsel Harrison Whitman. Lomachenko is lined up to face the winner of the Richard Commey-Isa Chaniev fight for the vacant IBF lightweight crown, possibly at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on April 12. Crawford is slated to defend his belt against Khan at Madison Square Garden in New York City in an ESPN pay-per-view event on April 20. For Ancajas to perform on either show would be a huge exposure to the US market. He has fought thrice previously in the US but never on a stage as historic as the Staples Center or Madison Square Garden. Ancajas has seen action at the Bank of America Center in Corpus Christi, Save Mart Arena in Fresno and the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Funai, 33, will be Ancajas’ second Japanese opponent after Teiru Kinoshita whom he stopped in seven rounds in Brisbane in 2017. Funai totes a 31-7 record, with 22 KOs and has won his last seven outings, six by KO including an eighth round disposal of Filipino Warlito Parrenas in Tokyo last June. Funai has lost three by KO, once to Filipino Rolly Lunas in 2012. He has never fought outside of Japan.

Ancajas, 27, was pushed to the limit in his last two fights, outpointing countryman Jonas Sultan and going the distance in a split draw with Mexico’s Alejandro Santiago. His record is 30-1-2, with 20 KOs. Ancajas’ only setback was to Mark Anthony Geraldo on a majority decision in Lapu Lapu City in 2012.

“Beterano si Funai,” said Ancajas. “Napanood ko na mga laban niya. Parang si Kinoshita kung lumaban ‘yun lang kanan siya. Malakas ang kaniyang straight at pag tumama, bigla siyang susugod. Mahirap na kalaban. Magalaw, may lakas pero kaya natin.”

Ancajas’ trainer Joven Jimenez said weight won’t be a problem. Nutritionist Jeaneth Aro is monitoring Ancajas’ weight which is now up to 135 pounds, 20 over the limit. Aro’s program is a healthy diet and puts Ancajas in a position to burn calories when he steps up training as the fight nears.

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