Music to calm Ancajas
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 7, 2019 - 12:00am

STOCKTON – While waiting in the locker room to warm up for his title defense against Japanese challenger Ryuichi Funai, IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas listened to music on his headphones at the Stockton Arena here last Saturday night. It was music to stay calm, to put him in the mood.

Ancajas sat on a steel chair with a towel over his head. For about 20 minutes, he was incommunicado. Nobody dared to bother him. Nobody talked to him. It was Ancajas’ brief alone time before getting his hands wrapped, fitting the colorful Hayabusa gloves and limbering up for a sweat. He was in the locker room for about 1 1/2 hours then made his way to the ring.

So what was the music he listened to? DJ and ring announcer Mark Lontayao looked over Ancajas’ playlist and shared the titles of some of the songs. Not surprisingly, at least four were Air Supply hits – “The Way I Feel” “Would You Ever Walk Away” “Goodbye” and “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All.” Then there were “Beautiful In White” by Westlife, “Someday” by Sugar Ray and “Out Of The Blue” by Michael Learns To Rock.

Ancajas’ marching song, however, was far from soothing. It was AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell.” Ancajas rocked the music as he entered the ring with an enthusiastic entourage led by international matchmaker Sean Gibbons, his son Brendan and trainer Joven Jimenez. Even GAB chairman Abraham Mitra was with the group. Mitra arrived from Manila that day and drove in from Sacramento.

The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) assigned George Ramos to oversee the proceedings in Ancajas’ locker room. Ramos, who is of Mexican descent, said he has a Filipina girlfriend. He was also in Ancajas’ corner representing the CSAC. Ramos gave his go-signal for the wrapping of Ancajas’ hands and fitting of the gloves in the presence of a member of Funai’s team. There was an awkward moment when Ancajas began to do the mitts with Jimenez while Funai’s representative looked on, waiting for the gloves to be taped by Ramos. Jimenez asked the representative if he could step out while the tape was on the way. He did and returned when the tape was brought in.

After the fight, Stockton resident Toti Quijano brought in Fr. Ron Manango to lead the thanksgiving prayer to the Lord. Fr. Manango celebrated Holy Mass at the Sonata Circle home where Ancajas stayed last week. Gibbons arranged for the Ancajas team to stay in a rented five-bedroom home owned by former Stockton mayor Anthony Silva. Fr. Manango is a big boxing fan and used to box for his high school team in Cebu. He was assigned to the US in 2006 and is the parish priest of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Modesto, California.

As Ancajas left his locker room to leave the arena, he bumped into rising lightweight contender and Stockton hometowner Gabe Flores. In the undercard, Flores knocked out Eduardo Pereira in the third round of a sixer. It was Flores’ Stockton debut. He turned 19 last May 1 and now has a record of 13-0 with 6 KOs. Ancajas congratulated Flores for his win and Flores did the same. Filipinos in Stockton said Ancajas has found a new home in the US as Flores gave the champion a purple cap with the numbers 209, the port city’s area code. Purple is the color of the Stockton Kings, the NBA G-League affiliate of the Sacramento Kings. 

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