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Will Japan cancel Jerwin fight?

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
Sat, 04 Dec 2021



There’s no certainty as to when Japan will end its ban on the entry of foreign travelers and if it isn’t lifted soon, the unification title fight between IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas and WBO ruler Kazuto Ioka set at the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo on Dec. 31 may be cancelled. The ban went into effect last Monday as the Japanese government took precautions to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Ancajas and trainer Joven Jimenez are in Los Angeles where they’ve been based since September. The plan is to leave for Tokyo on Dec. 11, quarantine for three days and taper off until the weigh-in on the eve of the fight. So far, there is no move to rebook travel arrangements.

“This is everything that Jerwin wants and he knows what he’s getting, a chance to unify against a world champion,” said MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons. “Jerwin’s willing to fight anyone who can put him where he wants to be. A win over Ioka sets him up for bigger names, maybe even Naoya Inoue.”

Ancajas said he’s been to Japan twice before to spar with Koki Kameda and Shinsuke Yamanaka. But it’s his first fight in Japan although Ioka won’t be his first Japanese opponent. Ancajas halted Japanese challengers Teiru Kinoshita in Brisbane in 2017 and Ryuichi Funai in Stockton in 2019. Ancajas said he expects a different encounter with Ioka. “Tinalo ni Donnie (Nietes) si Ioka pero ibang fightplan ko kasi kaliwete ako at kanan si Donnie,” he said. “Pasok si Ioka sa jab ni Donnie, pareho silang kanan. Mahirap na laban ito at beterano si Ioka, pang-apat na division nag world champion.”

Gibbons said the unification duel is a long time coming for Ancajas. “Jerwin deserves this opportunity,” he said. “This is his chance to carve his legacy. He’s done nine title defenses and he won the crown from a previously unbeaten Olympian (McJoe Arroyo). It wasn’t hard to arrange the fight. The Japanese people are honorable and respectful. They needed a tough opponent for Ioka and Jerwin fits the bill. Jerwin will quarantine for three days then on the fourth day, after testing negative, he’ll go back to training.” Ancajas said fighting in Japan won’t be any different from fighting anywhere else. “Pareho lang,” he said. “Alam ko, suportado si Ioka ng Japanese fans. Iba yung suporta ng Japanese fans, parang Mexican fans. Pero focus lang ako. Palaban si Ioka, patay kung patay, ‘di susuko. Handa akong makipagsabayan.”

At the Wild Card Gym where he trains, Ancajas said he’s been sparring with unbeaten John (Scrappy) Ramirez and former WBO minimimumweight titleholder Francisco Rodriguez who lost to Ioka on points last September. “Sabi ni Rodriguez, kaya ko raw si Ioka pero mag-ingat ako sa headbutt,” he said. “Pagkatapos ng laban kay Ioka, open ako makipaglaban kanino man, kung sino ang sabihin ni Sir Sean at coach Joven. No problem sa akin.”


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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