Ancajas solid 7-1 favorite to beat Funai, retain title
STOCKTON, USA – Despite a so-so showing in his last title defense, Jerwin Ancajas remains to be the solid favorite to beat Ryuichi Funai and keep the International Boxing Federation super flyweight crown.
The odds favor Ancajas – a 27-year-old southpaw with a 30-1 record, two drawn and 20 knockouts – even as the Filipino champion comes into the fight off a disappointing draw last September in Oakland against Mexico's Alejandro Santiago Barrios.
"I was hard at work 3 weeks after my last fight with Santiago," Ancajas said on Thursday, May 2 (Friday, May 3, Manila time).
"I am going to be in the best shape in my upcoming fight with Funai. Coming off my last fight, I really want to give a great performance and defend my world title in style."
Acanjas, unbeaten in 18 fights dating to 2012, won the crown in 2016 by unanimous decision from Puerto Rico's McJoe Arroyo and has defended 3 times in each of the past two years.
The odds are -715 for the Filipino champion and +450 for the Japanese challenger on Wednesday.
Meaning, a $715 bet for Ancajas earns just $100 if he wins while a $100 wager on Funai will become $450 in case of a shocker in the 12-rounder on Saturday, May 4 (Sunday, May 5, Manila time) at the 12,000-seat Stockton Arena.
Funai, 33, gets his first world title bout after 7 wins in a row over the past 3 years. He's 31-7 with 22 knockouts.
"I am excited for this opportunity to challenge for a world title and to make my professional debut in America," Funai said. "I know I have the experience and the skills to become the new IBF champion of the world. Jerwin and I respect one another, but this is boxing, and I'm going to fight my heart out."
Though Ancajas is the clear favorite, his chief trainer Joven Jimenez refuses to be complacent.
Jimenez wants to squeeze the best out of Ancajas in order for his prized ward to make up for the disappointing showing against Barrios.
Fact is, Jimenez took drastic measures in their training camp for Funai.
Jimenez transferred training from the familiar confines of Survival Camp in Magallanes, Cavite, to the even more secluded Marine Base in Ternate, Cavite, and enlisted the services of 7 boxers to serve as Ancajas’ sparring partners.
In addition, Jimenez brought nutritionist-dietician Jeaneth Aro to the United States to supervise Ancajas’ weight loss program.
As to their fight plan, Jimenez is no longer instructing Ancajas to go for the knockout.
He wants Ancajas to revert to their familiar wait-and-see strategy, which resulted to consecutive knockout victories over challengers Mexican Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in Macau, Japanese Teiru Kinoshita in Brisbane, Asutralia, Irish Jamie Conlan in Belfast, and Mexican Israel Gonzalez in Corpus Christi, Texas. – With a report from Agence France-Presse