MANILA, Philippines- When Marvin Sonsona resurrected his once promising career at Top Rank’s Ring of Gold event in Macau, China on February 22, there was another Filipino revelation that caught the attention of observers.
It was not the 22-year-old Jerwin Ancajas’ (19-1-1, 11 knockouts) international debut, but it was his most impressive performance to date.
Ancajas, a left-handed fighter from Panabo City, Davao del Norte, showed marked improvement from the get-go as he started the fight with quick jabs and speedy combinations. As soon as Jerwin found his rhythm, he dropped his Thai opponent Inthanon Sitchamuang (20-7, 11 KOs) with a one-two combination. Sitchaimuang weathered the storm only to be stopped with a big left hand at the 1:30 mark of round two.
“I told him he improved and showed quality after the fight but there are still some things missing,” says Ancajas’ new trainer, Nonoy Neri, a long-time assistant of Manny Pacquiao. “He (Jerwin) also impressed me with how he listens to his corner. He listens to my instructions during the fight and does it. Fighters like that are hard to come by.”
Ancajas started to box at the age of 9 when he was brought along by his brother to the gym. He began joining amateur competitions in 2003 and became a national youth champion. Jerwin decided to stop his studies when he was in 2nd year high school, a choice empowered by his passion for the sport. “When my brother turned pro, I dreamed of being a professional myself. I’ve always wanted to become a professional boxer.” And so in 2009, Ancajas decided that it was time to turn pro. Since then, he’s been guided by his manager Joven Jimenez.
“I can’t live without boxing,” says Ancajas, who boxes in the junior bantamweight division. “I chose boxing over studies. I wanted to box instead of going to school.”
For undisclosed reasons, Joven Jimenez’ stable has been on shambles for months, it was for this reason that he decided to have Jerwin move over to Neri’s MP Boxing gym in Davao. Jimenez realized that a better future lies in Neri’s gym in Davao and also cited better facilities and training program. “I approached Nonoy in October if it’s possible for them to help Jerwin out,” said Jimenez. “He (Jerwin) asked me, what about you? I told him your future is not with me, it is in Davao”.
The moment Jimenez received Neri’s nod in October last year, he did not waste a second in securing his fighter’s flight to Davao, a trip that includes Jerwin’s sacrifice of leaving his family behind. “I did not think twice in sending Jerwin over to Davao which is why I bought him plane tickets right away (when Neri agreed to look after Jerwin).”
Since then, Nonoy Neri took Jerwin Ancajas under his wing. He plans everything out for his boxers; from their morning runs, training regimen and the food they eat. Neri’s gym also serves as a home to the young Ancajas, for it is where he lives. Everything is properly subsidized to nurture the fighter so when a good opportunity comes knocking at their door, the fighter will be ready.
“I just want to fulfill my duties as a trainer and help him get exposure. (We have a good) relationship, after the gym, I bond with him since I’m at the gym all day 6 times a week,” says Neri. Nonoy realizes that in the business of boxing, seizing the opportunity is a lesson that must be lectured to his boxer. “I tell him, if there’s a break, we must focus because this is our livelihood. Jerwin works hard in training. He never says he’s tired or he’s in pain. He’s just always (trains) with a smile.”
Most surprising about Ancajas’ latest outing was his added punching power. Neri, who played the role of conditioning coach in the absence of Alex Ariza in the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight last November in Macau, says he applied the same strict plyometrics regimen in Jerwin’s training. “What I did to Manny Pacquiao, I did to Jerwin Ancajas. His speed and timing has improved,” says Neri.
“We need to add more speed, power, focus, angles, jabs, and there’s a need to improve his head movement. Jerwin is only at 80% of his potential. He’s going places.”
Ancajas will resume training in two weeks, and was left in the capable hands of his former trainer and manager, Joven Jimenez while Neri is back at the Pacquiao training camp to fulfill his long time duties. “Jerwin has a big future ahead,” says Jimenez. “I can already see his progress and improvements in training. We didn’t care about the prize (for the Macau fight), we were after the experience”.
Neri will resume training Ancajas as soon as the Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight on April 12 is over.
Team Ancajas is currently under negotiations for an IBF title eliminator on the undercard of Nonito Donaire’s challenge of WBA featherweight titleholder Simphiwe Vetyeka on May 31 in Macau. – Rappler.com
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