UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Jerwin Ancajas wants to fight Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez more than any other 115-pound opponent.
The legendary four-division champion probably won’t be available for Ancajas’ next bout because Gonzalez is pursuing a bigger third fight against Juan Francisco Estrada. If Estrada-Gonzalez III is the next fight for those rivals, Kazuto Ioka would be the only other champion available to face Ancajas later this year in a title unification fight.
Japan’s Ioka owns the WBO junior bantamweight championship. The Philippines’ Ancajas is the IBF junior bantamweight champ.
The 29-year-old Ancajas is free to pursue unification fights now that he has withstood a grueling slugfest with mandatory challenger Jonathan Rodriguez on April 10 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“I want to fight every one of the champions in this division,” Ancajas said. “I want Estrada, ‘Chocolatito,’ all of the big names in my division. I want the big fight for me.”
Ancajas (33-1-2, 22 KOs) has taken criticism during his lengthy championship reign because he has not faced other top fighters in the 115-pound division. Mexico’s Rodriguez (22-2, 16 KOs) was unproven prior to Saturday night, but the gritty challenger got up from an eighth-round knockdown and pushed Ancajas in what the champion called the toughest of his nine title defenses.
Ancajas defeated Rodriguez by unanimous decision. Judges Tony Paolillo (115-112), Tom Schreck (116-111) and Don Trella (117-110) all scored their fight for Ancajas, who hasn’t lost in nine years.
CompuBox’s unofficial statistics indicated Ancajas-Rodriguez was closer than Schreck and Trella had it.
CompuBox counted more punches overall for Rodriguez than Ancajas (273-of-826 to 232-of-758). Rodriguez landed more power punches (253-of-584 to 176-of-447), according to CompuBox, but Ancajas connected with more jabs (56-of-311 to 20-of-242).
“The champ proved tonight, again, in his ninth title defense, that he’s for real,” said Sean Gibbons, president of Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, which represents Ancajas. “He was out of the ring for 16 months. … But he showed that he deserves to be with Ioka, to be with ‘Chocolatito,’ to be with Estrada, to be with those guys. You know, everybody in boxing knows that the four guys are fighting in a tournament. So, we’ll take a look and see if Ioka’s available. His dream fight was always ‘Chocolatito’ or Rungvisai.”
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (50-5-1, 43 KOs) was the WBC’s supposed mandatory challenger for Estrada’s super flyweight title, but the Thai southpaw has been ordered to fight Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras (39-4-1, 27 KOs) in an elimination match. The WBC recently elevated Estrada to the status of “franchise champion,” and also ordered an immediate third bout between Mexico’s Estrada (42-3, 28 KOs) and Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (50-3, 41 KOs).
Estrada edged Gonzalez by split decision in their thoroughly entertaining, 12-round rematch March 13 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Gonzalez lost the WBA 115-pound crown to Estrada in a fight Gonzalez believes he clearly won.
Ioka (26-2, 15 KOs) does not have a fight scheduled. He stopped countryman Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9 KOs) in the eighth round to win the WBO belt December 31 in Ota City, Japan.
“I think Ioka’s realistic [for Ancajas],” Gibbons said. “Meanwhile, what he did on Showtime, the performance he put on, Mr. Al Haymon was thrilled with it. Stephen Espinoza, Showtime, we have nothing but praise and thank them for doing this fight, when everybody looked at this fight like a terrible fight, like it shouldn’t even be there. So, we’re just gonna enjoy tonight, enjoy the victory, and then sort things out after [Ancajas] has a nice trip to New York City for [the] first time ever.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.