Jerwin Ancajas Dominates All-Filipino Contest In California

Filipino Jerwin Ancajas continued an unbeaten streak that stretches back to 2012 tonight with victory over countryman Jonas Sultan in Fresno, California. The world’s #3 super-flyweight according to the TBRB moved to 30-1-1 while Sultan, ranked #8 going in, dropped to 14-4.

Sultan justifiably spoke before the fight of having matched superior competition to Ancajas in taking out Sonny Boy Janero, one-time flyweight world champion, and out-pointing Johnny Casimero, who was responsible for ridding elite boxing of perhaps its dirtiest fighter in Amnat Ruenroeng.

Nevertheless it was Ancajas who shaded a tense first round as he looked to establish his body attack and find range for his southpaw jab, while Sultan, who showed good arbitrary head-movement, looked for the right hand down the middle. A stiff left hand at bell punctuated the round for Ancajas and underlined a slight but notable advantage in hand speed.

Ancajas also showed a patience that has become a trademark post his 2016 defeat of McJoe Arroyo to lift the IBF strap, since which time he has also scored four consecutive knockouts, perhaps no coincidence. Even in the third, upon Sultan’s landing that straight-right, his best punch of the fight, Ancajas merely held the punch and returned to boxing, dominating with a one-two down the middle to the body and single shots upstairs. Sultan, arguably, had still failed to win even a thirty second period of any given round.

Still, the smaller man was persistent, feinting with feet, moving head and shoulders, always alive to the right hand. Ancajas’ control of range and accuracy was withering but Sultan’s heart remained unmolested in the fourth as he explored the left-hook as an option in earnest as a new method to close the distance, but I did feel his guard began to drop a little in the fourth as Ancajas continued to get home with body shots.

That trend continued in the fifth.  The crowd booed as Ancajas landed a stiff left to the gut after twenty-five seconds, perhaps unappreciative of the strapholder’s wonderful control of range via the half-step and unerring accuracy. Californian boxing expects more of her guests, perhaps, but for all that the action was middling, the pitched battle between Ancajas’ excellence and Sultan’s bravery was heating up.

Clearly losing the rounds (I had it 5-0 in favor of Ancajas at the opening of the sixth) Sultan tried to bring more pressure but quickly had it stabbed out of him by the accuracy of the man he was trying to swarm.  They traded rather wildly with 1:10 remaining, Sultan trying to engender some of the chaos that served him so well versus Casimero. Ancajas, though, is iron, in chin and temperament both. His calm domination continued into the seventh.

So did the steady stream of punishment aimed at Sultan’s body although stepping off after punches to the head is where Ancajas looked most impressive in the seventh. There was a sense, I think, of a fighter being deconstructed in stages. Sultan brings the toughness seemingly inherent in Filipino fighters but by the end of this frame the difference in class between the two men was very clear.

The eighth was probably Sultan’s best round since the third, and included his landing a hard right hand, but it was also another round for Ancajas, meaning the challenger was by now in desperate need of a knockout. He hit the canvas himself in the ninth after over-extending on a right hand, unhurt but embarrassed. He redeemed himself with three very pretty left hooks as he, if not quite threw caution to the wind, edged his way into range with a view to do doing real harm. With three rounds remaining, Sultan had won his first round of the night.

After this superb effort and before the tenth, the challenger’s corner sounded a mighty call to arms, a speech that sounds basically the same in any language; an inspired Sultan likely shaded the tenth as Ancajas looked to coast. Sultan, perhaps, was a little disappointing in the first half of the fight but Ancajas, perhaps, was a little disappointing in the second half when one might have expected him to close the blinds on an opponent who, although game, was overmatched.

Ancajas bagged the eleventh before an exciting and sometimes untidy twelfth capped a contest that had been absorbing rather than thrilling, Ancajas dominant and impressive but failing to live up to his all-conquering billing.

Judges returned scores of 119-09 twice and 117-111.

Superb chief support saw Khalid “Kal” Yafai out of Birmingham, England, pop his US cherry versus David Carmona, whose non-effort in making the weight saw him come in 3.5lbs over the 115lb limit. Carmona, who is most famous for his excellent performance in his tilt with Carlos Cuadras, was more recently stopped in two by 13-4 Daniel Lozano; under-qualified, then, as a challenger for Yafai’s strap, it was just that he would be unable to win it due to his struggle with the scales.

To Yafai’s credit he didn’t hesitate to continue with the fight and dropped Carmona in the very first round with a left hand around the top of the head before shipping hard right hands in the follow up and slipping to the canvas himself. Over-excited by his early success he allowed Carmona into a vicious and exciting battle as the two winged power punches at each other.

This became the pattern of the fight. Yafai stood in the pocket with the bigger, more experienced man and traded with him throughout, beating Carmona to the punch and repeatedly hurting and dropping him. Straight combinations including a lovely 1-2-3 for one of two knockdowns in the fifth were barracked by a lovely left-uppercut on the inside and a steaming, controlling jab.

Yafai had it all his own with the exception of his losing a point in that turbulent fifth round for landing a punch on Carmona’s shoulder after dropping him. Carmona’s people pulled him in the eighth; he had not won a single round, although he did occasionally trouble the Englishman with right hands.

Shipping these punches to Ancajas in their proposed unification fight would be a more significant problem, but this would be a welcome fight in what is a division that appears to be heating up in earnest once more.

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