Jerwin Ancajas will stake his crown in a foreign land once again when he battles Kazuto Ioka in a super flyweight unification on Saturday, December 31, in Tokyo, Japan.
The Ancajas-Ioka showdown at the Ota-City General Stadium was formally announced by MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions president Sean Gibbons in Los Angeles on Wednesday, November 24 (Thursday, November 25, Philippine time).
After doing three months of training in the United States, Ancajas, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) king, will be flying out of Los Angeles on December 11 and will be arriving in the capital city the following day.
Together with trainer Joven Jimenez and manager Brendan Gibbons, Ancajas will undergo three days of quarantine before resuming his preparations for Ioka, Japan's lone four-division world champion and holder of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) 115-pound belt.
"This is my dream fight! I have been waiting for a signature fight and now that it's here I won't let this chance slip away," said Ancajas in Filipino.
"We're very happy," said Jimenez. "This is what we've been waiting for. We've been calling out the other champions and it's only now that we were answered."
According to Gibbons: "The best thing is a long time coming. He (Jerwin) has fought good opposition and is truly deserving," noting that Ancajas has been a champion since 2016 and has defended the title nine times in various venues in the United States, Macau, Brisbane (Australia), Belfast (United Kingdom), and Mexico.
Among those who have failed to wrest the belt away from Ancajas, who snatched it from Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo at home, are Ioka's compatriots Teiru Kinoshita in 2017 and Ryuichi Funai in 2019.
Ancajas (33-1-2, 22 knockouts) said he's no stranger to boxing in Japan having served as a sparring partner for Koki Kameda and former World Boxing Council champion Shinsuke Yamanaka in 2012.
Though Ioka (27-2, 15 knockouts) lost by split decision to Donnie Nietes in their battle for the then-vacant WBO super flyweight title in 2018, Ancajas expects a tough, bruising 12-rounder.
"It's going to be difficult. Ioka is on another level. He is fast, a many-time champion, fights smart, and is familiar with these situations," said Ancajas. "I need to be focused and be prepared for whatever he will bring to the ring."
Jimenez agreed, saying he'll see to it that his longtime ward will have the best training, sparring, and conditioning for the New Year's Eve blockbuster. – Rappler.com