Pinoy boxer Ernesto Saulong gets title shot vs IBF champ Ryosuke Iwasa
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxer Ernesto Saulong will get his first shot at becoming a world champion when he faces IBF junior featherweight titleholder Ryosuke Iwasa on March 1 at Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.
The news was confirmed by Saulong's manager Ariel Araja, who says the 28-year-old from Mindoro Occidental will prepare for the fight at Survival Camp – training ground of IBF junior bantamweight champ Jerwin Ancajas – in Magallanes, Cavite.
Saulong (21-2-1, 8 knockouts) is ranked the number 13 contender by the New Jersey-based International Boxing Federation, and has won 3 straight since losing a decision in his last fight abroad to Lwandile Sityatha in South Africa in 2015.
Rappler's coverage of Saulong's fourth-round knockout of Arnel Baconaje on June 24, 2016
Iwasa (24-2, 16 KOs) is also 28, but fights out of a southpaw stance and won the title last September with a 6th-round technical knockout of Yukinori Oguni, when his accurate straight left counters busted up Iwasa's face and convinced the doctor to recommend a stoppage. His two losses have come by stoppage, with Shinsuke Yamanaka beating him in the tenth round of a 2011 Japanese bantamweight title fight, and Lee Haskins finishing him in the 6th for the interim IBF bantamweight title in 2015.
"It's going to be an interesting fight since Iwasa is a stylish kind of fighter while Saulong is a slugger," said Araja in a text message. "[We'll] see how he could cut the ring to avoid Iwasa from running. I think he has a good chance to bring home the title."
"This is what Saulong has been looking for in his career," said Joven Jimenez, who will train Saulong for this fight and arrange sparring between Saulong and Ancajas on Tuesday. "He needs to win by KO."
The show will be headlined by the WBC bantamweight title fight between Yamanaka and Luis Nery, a rematch of their controversial first fight last August, when Nery blitzed Yamanaka to win by 4th-round technical knockout, only to test positive afterwards for the banned substance Zilpaterol. – Rappler.com