Ancajas holds off sturdy Mexican in bruising battle to keep IBF title

Emmanuel B. Villaruel (The Freeman) - April 12, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  In one hell of a good fight, Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas grinded through a hard-earned unanimous victory over a very tough Mexican challenger Jonathan Javier “Titan” Rodriguez to retain his IBF super flyweight crown on Saturday night (Sunday morning, Phl time) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

The 29-year-old Ancajas piled up points early on and after a vicious exchange of punches in the second half, the defending Filipino champion landed solid head and body shots to send Rodriguez down at the seat of his pants with only 20 seconds left in the eighth round that most likely sealed his win in the eyes of the three judges. It was the first time that Rodriquez got knocked down in his career.

Right after their bruising 12-round war of attrition, Ancajas and Rodriguez displayed an admirable act of sportsmanship when they hugged for a long time. They again gave each other a warm embrace while both kneeling on the canvas, as if basking in the limelight after realizing what they have gone through inside the ring.

Ancajas prevailed in the superbly close battle despite lagging behind in statistics. While Ancajas did land more jabs (56-of-311 to 20-of-242), Rodriguez delivered more punches overall (273-of-826 to 232-of-758) as well as in power punches (253-of-584 to 176-of-447), according to CompuBox.

In the end though, the scores of the judges mattered most.

Tony Paolillo penned the bout 115-112, Tom Schreck had it 116-111, while Don Trella gave a lopsided 117-110 mark all in favor of Ancajas, who successfully defended for ninth time the IBF throne he seized also via unanimous verdict over Puerto Rico’s McJoe Arroyo on September 3, 2016 at the Jurado Hall of the Philippine Marine Corps in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Ancajas, who saw action for the first time in nearly two years, improved his record to 33-1 with 22KOs while Rodriguez suffered his only second loss in 24 matches dotted with 16KOs.

In the undercard, Ancajas’ compatriot Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo had little trouble in knocking out Houston’s Pablo Cruz in round four to stretch his unbeaten streak to 22-0 now adorned with 15KOs.

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