Boxer Jerwin Ancajas makes big money gamble in world title shot
MANILA, Philippines - While many boxers feel terrible and dehydrated when they step on the scale, Jerwin Ancajas was smiling from sucked-in cheek-to-cheek during Friday’s weigh-in. Ancajas looked more like a man getting ready to greet well-wishers at his birthday party than someone about to fight in his first world championship bout.
The 23-year-old fighter is looking forward to his fight against IBF junior bantamweight champ McJoe Arroyo on Saturday, September 3, but is also looking ahead after making a significant wager on himself in the form of a hometown fight.
Ancajas (23-1-1, 16 knockouts) checked in at the weight limit of 115 pounds ahead of his challenge against IBF junior bantamweight champ McJoe Arroyo (17-0, 8 KOs), who was just under at 114 pounds. The fight takes place at the Philippine Navy Gym in Taguig City, Philippines. The show is free-to-all with the doors opening at 4 pm. The main event is expected to go on at 9 pm.
The fight had been delayed multiple times for a variety of reasons, and was originally set for February in Arroyo’s backyard of Puerto Rico. When the main event between Roman “Rocky” Martinez and Orlando Salido was canceled the whole card was scrapped and the fight was sent to a purse bid. The only promoter to issue a bid was Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions for the minimum of $25,000.
Under a purse bid, the champion is entitled to 85% while the challenger receives 15%. While Ancajas was promised $40,000 for the original fight date in Puerto Rico, he’s only entitled to $3,750 under the new purse bid. It’s considerably smaller than his non-title purses for fights in Macau, for which he made $10,000 each. Arroyo receives $21,250 under the bid.
“Everybody here is in this business to make money. We know from the beginning that this is not the best place to make money for everybody,” said Arroyo’s promoter Peter Rivera, president of PR Best Boxing Promotions.
Ancajas, a native of Panabo City, Davao del Norte, Philippines, isn’t concerned about making a small amount for the fight. He’s hoping having homecourt advantage will be enough to grab the belt, after which he can earn bigger purses for title defenses.
“I am not thinking of the prize right now, however big or small. My focus is to win the fight,” said Ancajas.
“Money is not important, what’s important is that we get the belt and he will be a champion,” said Joven Jimenez, manager/trainer of Ancajas. “Even if we have no purse here, we will fight.”
Manny Pacquiao, who is the promoter for the show, is not yet confirmed to attend the fight due to a birthday party he’ll be attending out of town. Pacquiao is known for being charitable as a benefactor for Philippine athletes, but didn’t state outright whether he’d give Ancajas a bonus if he won the title when asked on Wednesday.
Pacquiao confidante Joe Ramos, who heads up Pacquiao’s sports endeavors, says it’s likely Ancajas would receive something extra in addition to his purse.
“I think bringing a world title home to the Philippines on his card, I think it’s pretty much a given. I can’t guarantee it but with [Pacquiao’s history], Jerwin is in line for a pretty sizeable amount bonus,” Ramos says.
Arroyo, a 2008 Olympian, is not bothered by fighting in his opponent’s hometown. He started boxing at age 11 in 1997, and by 1998 he was sparring world champion John John Molina ahead of his IBF lightweight championship fight with Shane Mosley. The camp admitted it was a bit odd doing their running around Manila Memorial Park cemetery in Sucat, Paranaque City but say they had been treated professionally by the promotion and were ready to just get on with the fight.
“As long as there’s a boxing ring, there’s some things we have to deal with,” says Arroyo, who hasn’t fought since defeating Filipino boxer Arthur Villanueva in July of 2015 to win the vacant belt. “When the bell rings let’s see his style of fighting and mine. Little by little we’ll show everybody how we need to fight.
“My mentality is to be the winner. I have to do everything possible to be the winner because I want to defend my title 100 percent.” – Rappler.com
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter:@RyanSongalia.