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SPORTS SHORTS 268: JERWIN ANCAJAS FACES KAZUTO IOKA FOR THE IBF AND WBO SUPERFLYWEIGHT TITLE UNIFICATION ON DECEMBER 31

By Maloney L. Samaco
PhilBoxing.com
Sun, 28 Nov 2021



International Boxing Federation (IBF) superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas finally got a big deal, a unification fight with World Boxing Organization (WBO) superflyweight titlist Kazuto Ioka of Japan. This will take place on December 31 at the New Ota Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.

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Ancajas battles four-division world champion Kazuto Ioka with his title and the Japanese's belt at stake in the unification. The 29-year-old Ancajas will be making his tenth defense of his IBF superflyweight diadem.

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The 32-year-old Ioka holds the record of being Japan’s first and only four-weight world champion, having held the WBO super-flyweight title since 2019. He previously held the unified WBA and WBC mini-flyweight titles, the WBA (Regular) light-flyweight title, and the WBA flyweight title.

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“I didn’t lose hope while I was training here knowing that my team, led by Sean Gibbons, is doing everything to get me a fight,” Ancajas told Daily Tribune. "Me and my coach and manager Joven Jimenez had full trust in his ability to deliver."

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Ancajas has a record of 33-1-2 with 22 knockouts. Ioka on the other hand is 27-2 with 15 knockouts. Ancajas last fought on April 10 winning by unanimous decision against Mexican Jonathan Javier Rodriguez at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Montville, Connecticut.

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Ioka's latest bout was a unanimous decision win over Mexican former unified mini-flyweight champion Francisco Rodríguez Jr. last September 1 at the Ota City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan. He won the fight against the No. 2 contender Rodriguez, with all three judges scoring 116–112 for Ioka.

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Ancajas' inactivity and fighting in hostile territory does not bother him and his handlers. "As long as you are prepared, you have nothing to worry,” Jimenez added. His team is scheduled to travel to Tokyo on December 11. He has to quarantine himself three days upon arrival.

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“We’ve been preparing for this one and of course we’re going to take the fight seriously,” said Ancajas over YouTube stream at Joven Sports. “Unification bouts are hard to come by. We’re working harder for this fight so that we won’t waste all the time waiting for a unification. This fight is the biggest one of my career.”

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Ancajas knocked out six of his nine previous challengers. He has defended his title against Chile's Miguel Gonzalez by TKO6, Japan's Ryuichi Funai by TKO6, Mexico's Alejandro Santiago by SD, Filipino Jonas Sultan by UD, Mexico's Israel González by TKO10, United Kingdom's Jamie Conlan by TKO6, Japan's Teiru Kinoshita by TKO7 and Mexico's José Alfredo Rodríguez by TKO7.

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Ioka is on a four-fight winning streak and his last loss was dealt by Donnie Nietes in New Year’s Eve 2018. The Japanese champion has won five titles in four weight classes and accomplished a 21-2 record in world title fights.

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Shisei Boxing Gym, MP Promotions, TGB Promotions, and Knucklehead Boxing Promotions collaborated to realize the unification match.

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Ioka will defend his WBO strap for the fifth straight time since winning the vacant title against Filipino Aston Palicte by 10th round TKO on June 19, 2019 at Makuhari Messe, Chiba, Japan

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“This is my dream fight! I have waited six years for a signature fight to prove to everyone in boxing that I am one of the best 115 pounders in the world,” said Ancajas as quoted by BoxingScene.

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“I have been to Japan, sparring in the past, and love the people of Japan and the boxing fans are some of the best in the world. They respect all fighters and root for the best man to win.”

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Joven Jimenez, Ancajas’ head trainer, and MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons were elated with the agreement that the Panabo, Davao del Norte born champion is going on to his first unification bout.

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The Ancajas-Ioka unification bout will follow the footsteps of the historic fight of bantamweight champions Nonito Donaire and Naoya Inoue that earned the honor as 2019 Fight of the Year.

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"With the situation with the coronavirus in Japan, it's a little more strict right now," said MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons as quoted by ABS-CBN. "They'll set up camp there around the 13th of December. They have to do a three-day quarantine and on the fourth day they are free to hit the gym, work out."

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Ancajas is very grateful of the opportunity to get the dream title unification fight. "I'm very thankful of Team Ioka. He first mentioned my name and wanted to fight me. We're very happy with coach (Joven Jimenez). We waited for this for a long time," he said.

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"Ioka is the beginning," said Gibbons. "The timing is right for this fight. It's a long time coming."

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Ioka frustrated countryman Kosei Tanaka to become a similar four-weight champion by stopping the previously unbeaten three-division champion via eighth-round TKO last New Year’s Eve 2020 at the Ota City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan to defend his WBO super-flyweight title.

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Ancajas (33-1-2, 22 KOs) at present is one of boxing’s longest reigning champions, having held the IBF junior bantamweight title since September 3, 2016 when he outpointed McJoe Arroyo by unanimous decision in Taguig City.

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The New Year’s Eve bout is a regular event that Ioka has done almost every year since 2011 in Japan.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.

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