By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
MAY 27 is going to be a red-letter day for Philippine boxing as for the first time in many years two Filipino fighters will dispute a world title.
Filipino Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas, the International Boxing Federation super flyweight champion, will defend his title against mandatory challenger and compatriot Jonas “Zorro” Sultan in a fight set at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, on Sunday (Manila time).
It marks the first time that two Filipino pugilists will go at it for a boxing belt since the legendary Pancho Villa defended and retained his flyweight title against Clever Sencio in May 1925.
But while the “Filipino vs. Filipino” angle of the Ancajas-Sultan fight in itself makes it a must-see event, for local boxing analyst Nissi Icasiano, the lure of the about-to-happen ring encounter goes beyond it, citing the back stories of both the protagonists and what they bring to the table as making the title fight all the more engaging.
“There’s more to it aside from being the first world boxing championship bout pitting a Filipino champion against a top-rated Filipino boxing contender in 93 years. In one corner, you have Jerwin Ancajas, who looks to establish himself as the next standard-bearer of Philippine boxing. He is more than willing to face every contender in the IBF rankings to prove that he is worthy to be called champion of the division. In the other corner, you have Jonas Sultan. He has been part of the ALA [Promotions] stable for so long, and he made his debut under the same stable in 2013. Despite the talent that he possesses, he was overlooked. At that time, ALA has a cast of young pugilists such as the Pagara brothers and Mark Magsayo. However, he didn’t get that push from ALA,” said Mr. Icasiano in an interview with BusinessWorld.
“It’s an interesting story for me. Jerwin is fighting his way up to be the flag bearer of the country on the boxing world stage, while Sultan values a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a world champion. Not only that, it’s personal because he wants to be a permanent cast member of ALA stable’s frontline unit,” he added.
Having had the chance to follow each fighter’s career path and development, Mr. Icasiano said both Messrs. Ancajas (29-1-1) and Sultan (14-3) should be expected to bring the fireworks come fight night but nonetheless giving the champion the upper hand.
“Jerwin’s advantages in the ring are his footwork, body shots, speed and experience. Jerwin’s southpaw stance may pose a problem to Jonas Sultan. Sultan I believe has only faced one southpaw in his last 17 fights, and he lost. It’s one area that Jerwin could exploit on fight night,” Mr. Icasiano said.
But he is not completely counting out Zamboanga native Sultan, saying he has the stuff to take the title away from Panabo City’s Ancajas.
“Sultan is known to be an explosive puncher. He has a good uppercut and a decent overhand right. Aside from his arsenal, Sultan is a boxer who could make adjustments as the bout progresses. It’s going to be an interesting bout,” the analyst added.
The Ancajas-Sultan title fight will be shown live over ESPN5 on Sunday beginning at 10 a.m.