Filipino boxers

Ancajas dangles world crown against unbeaten Martinez in US in February

Roy Luarca
Ancajas dangles world crown against unbeaten Martinez in US in February

TITLE DEFENSE. Jerwin Ancajas will defend his IBF super flyweight crown for the 10th time.

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Jerwin Ancajas faces Argentine Fernando Daniel Martinez after his title unification bout against Japanese Kazuto Ioka on New Year's Eve fell through

MANILA, Philippines – It took a little longer but Jerwin Ancajas finally gets the chance to dangle his IBF super flyweight crown against unbeaten Argentine Fernando Daniel Martinez in February in the United States.

Ancajas was supposed to risk the 115-pound belt against WBO champion Kazuto Ioka on New Year’s Eve in Tokyo but the unification did not push through following new travel restrictions imposed by Japan due to the COVID-19 variant Omicron.

Rather than Ancajas being idle for a long time, MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions president Sean Gibbons looked for a new opponent and found Martinez fits the bill.

Martinez is a 2016 Olympian, has taken part in the World Series of Boxing, and has 13 straight wins with 8 knockouts to boot since he turned pro in 2017.

Meaning, the 29-year-old Ancajas was already a world champion when Martinez, 30, joined the money chase.

Apart from the edge in experience, Ancajas (33-1-2) has also tangled with better rivals since 2016 when he wrested the crown from Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo in Taguig City.

For trainer Joven Jimenez, however, Martinez poses a legitimate threat.

According to Jimenez, Ancajas will switch to a defensive stance and rely mainly on his counterpunching skills when he tangles with Martinez most likely in either New York City or New Jersey.

BoxRec has listed the Ancajas-Martinez bout on February 5 but a reliable source insisted the bout will happen on February 19.

This early, Ancajas has been tagged the heavy favorite to beat Martinez and arrange a new unification with Ioka, who’ll be defending his title against compatriot Ryoji Fukunaga in Tokyo instead.

With the fight seven weeks away, Ancajas has resumed sparring sessions, including once against fellow Filipino Mark Magsayo, who will be chasing American Gary Russell Jr.’s WBC featherweight belt on January 22 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. –