ESPN+ results: Jerwin Ancajas and Khalid Yafai successfully defend their junior bantamweight titles
Jerwin Ancajas outboxed and outclassed Jonas Sultan to a unanimous decision (119-109 twice, 117-111) victory on Saturday night, successfuly defending his IBF junior bantamweight belt a fifth time in an all-Filipino title fight, 93 years in the making. The fight was the main event of a Top Rank card held at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, and streamed live on the ESPN+ subscription app.
Ancajas, Cavite City, Philippines, used a keen jab and cunning lateral movement to put on a boxing clinic on the IBF’s No.1 contender and mandatory opponent, who represented Cebu City. Seemingly everything Ancajas did worked off that jab, and it stayed glued onto the face of Sultan, who tried to shoot the straight right hand on the southpaw. It was the right idea for the orthodox fighter but Ancajas pivoted off his front foot in order to elude it. It wasn’t until the third, when Sultan landed that right hand cleanly, but it didn’t keep Ancajas, 30-1-1 (20), from being busy offensively and he continued to box circles around his compatriot. As the fight and Sultan’s struggles continued through the sixth, the crowd began to show its displeasure with the drama-less boxing match that had plenty of ill-timed clinches.
Sultan, 14-4 (9), tried his best make it a dog fight but the constant crashing of bodies against the right-hander and left-hander kept any sort of rhythm going. Here and there, a right hook to the head would land on the inside but there was never a wary moment with Ancajas, aside from the couple of accidental headbutts he sustained to swell the bridge of his brow. Entering the late rounds, Sultan had some of his best moments in just keeping up with Ancajas’ offense, which, of course, showcased the versatile power left hand that came from strange angles. Finding a position on the inside was a chore for Sultan, especially without a jab. According to CompuBox, Ancajas had 65 jabs landed to Sultan’s seven, and, by the end of the fight, scored 234 total punches to the contender’s 147. In the 12th, the Filipinos had perhaps their best round aesthetically, as they tried to end it on a higher note, but the long wait for this Civil War was marred by the tremendous boxing display of their champion.
Khalid Yafai retained his WBA junior bantamweight title in the ESPN+ co-feature, after forcing David Carmona to retire in his corner after seven full rounds of non-stop action.
Making his United States debut, Yafai, Birmingham, England, had a dramatic first round. He scored a knockdown with a left hook that clipped Carmona’s temple and sent him into an unbalanced tumble backward midway through the round. Yafai was aggressive, once time resumed, but Carmona managed to clip him with a left of his own, as he lunged forward. Yafai immediately tried to clinch and struggled at doing so, making the final minute of the opening round a frantic mission to just get to the next round. Carmona, who missed weight and was ineligible to win Yafai’s WBA belt, used his size advantage for confidence’s sake, as the fight morphed into a war of attrition in the second. Carmona was willing to eat a few in order to give a few, and he seemed comfortable with that mindset.
Yafai, 24-0 (15), showed a craftier display of combination punching, when they went toe-to-toe, and, through three, he was getting the better of the action of the close rounds, but there was no way the Mexican was going to go away. A low blow in the fourth sent Carmona crashing to the canvas but referee Raul Caiz Sr. ruled it a knockdown. Not even that broke his will, however, and Carmona, 27, went on to close the round on a high note and leave those scoring it scratching their heads, with another round where he may’ve won after getting off the mat. In the following round, Yafai handed in one of his best combos of the fight, and flattened Carmona to the canvas to score his third knockdown. As Carmona went down, a follow-up shot landed while he was on a knee, and Caiz Sr. docked a point for the foul.
Carmona, 21-6-5 (9), dug deep to unleash big body shots and headhunting right and left hooks in the sixth and seventh rounds. After seven, he huffed and puffed in his corner, from not only all the shots he threw but the consistent work Yafai racked up on him. Unable to catch his breath, Carmona’s corner had him retire on the stool to give Yafai the victory. Carmona was on pace to throw almost a thousand punches in the fight but Yafai’s 172 total shots after seven rounds took their toll. In his third defense of the WBA junior bantamweight title, Yafai weathered through a heavier man to get the win impressively, which is a similar story to how he won the title against Luis Concepcion in 2016.
On the undercard – which was also streamed live on ESPN+ – John Vincent Moralde handed Ismail Muwendo his first defeat, after receiving a unanimous decision (76-74 twice, 77-73), earning it with a counter left hand that was the lasting impression of a competitive lightweight contest.
Coming off his first and only defeat to Toka Khan Clary last December, Moralde, General Santos City, Philippines, started the fight off with that counter left hook, hitting Muwendo square on the chin for a dramatic knockdown in the first. The 29-year-old Ugandan leisurely rose to his feet but once the next one landed just moments later, there was a glaring concern that not only were Muwendo’s legs unstable, he wasn’t seeing the counter left. Moralde, 20-1 (10), smiled after each shot landed, and started to pepper in some lead right hooks, as well through the second. It wasn’t until the third round when Muwendo started to get into the fight, and he had a bit of a conundrum in order to find success.
Muwendo, 19-1 (12), had his best success by being busy with the jab, throwing the left to the body and finding sporadic success with his straight right to the face. The shots landed on him weren’t wiping away Moralde’s smile, however, as he seemingly knew he had something that wasn’t going to let him down. The counter left kept coming and coming, sometimes just missing until the fifth round, in which Muwendo was dropped for the second time in the fight. Again, Muwendo took the shot well enough to not look rattled, once action resumed, but they were points he needed to make up by fight’s end. In the seventh, Muwendo had his best moment of the fight after leaning into a left hook that caught Moralde off-guard. He was clearly dazed but had the wherewithal to keep the left hand looming.
With their contrasting styles now evident, it made for a good back-and-forth for the final three rounds of the fight but Muwendo forced Moralde to earn his win in the last two. Thanks to some tremendous conditioning, Muwendo was able to overwhelm Moralde with his volume punching, going downhill, but as the final scores indicated, he couldn’t land the shot to knock Moralde down and make up for the lost points, let alone get the knockout.
Fresno-born junior lightweight prospect Isidro Ochoa earned a wide unanimous decision (60-54 twice, 59-55) win over Ricardo Arias but there were a couple of points that indicated the fight wasn’t as close as it was scored.
The six-rounder was perhaps the best fight of the undercard, and, after five sustained rounds of non-stop offense, Ochoa, 21, started the final round by ramping up his home crowd and channeling that energy to finish the fight on top. Ochoa, 5-0 (1), started the bout with a creative display of fighting on the inside and getting out of the pocket in a timely manner. Arias, 1-4-1, showed great toughness by just standing there and taking it at first but he lulled Ochoa into his style of fight, and the middle rounds were as close as they could get. In the fifth, Ochoa bloodied Arias’ nose with a right hand, and it got worse in the final round in which he got a burst of energy from the crowd. He fought the final round as if he needed to win it, thus showing how the scores didn’t exactly show the fight’s true story.
Bryan Lua sealed off Francisco Camacho in the third round after knocking him down three times en route to a technical knockout win. The junior lightweight contest was scheduled for four.
Lua, 5-0 (2), picked Camacho apart in the two rounds leading up to the knockout with an accurate attack upstairs but a body punch in the third started the unraveling. Camacho, 6-8-1 (3), took a knee after another one landed just seconds after he rose from the first one, and even spit his mouthpiece out to buy some time. The 24-year-old’s legs couldn’t recover, however, and, after trying to skirt around the ring to buy more time, Lua easily cut him off to unleash a flurry of shots – particularly a left hook – to crumble Camacho a third and final time. Lua, a 20-year-old from Madera, California, showed very good poise in his third win of the year and there was good reason for him to celebrate, having delivered such a fine performance near his hometown.
Alexander Besputin walked through Saul Corral to earn a third round technical knockout, after scoring his second knockdown in the round. The welterweight contest was scheduled for 10 rounds.
Fighting out of Oxnard, California, by way of Kamensk-Uralksy, Russia, Bepsutin landed a perfect uppercut in the third round that was the beginning of the end for the Mexican veteran. The punch had been set up from the southpaw stance in the two rounds leading up it, and, once getting up from the shot shakily, Corral backed himself into a corner where Besputin could go in for the kill. Besputin, 10-0 (8), lunged in with his power left hand consecutively to force the positioning trap, and an uppercut to the gut finally folded Corral, after taking a few right hooks to the head. Corral, 28-12 (19), disputed with referee Edward Collante’s decision to immediately wave it off but there was no question that it was the right decision.
Junior welterweight Piotr Apostol had a shaky start but ended up wailing on Carlos Castillo for the better of the four rounds to earn a unanimous decision win. The official scores were 40-36 twice and 39-37.
Apostol, 5-0 (2), showed the effects of two separate Hail Mary left hooks on the chin late the first round, and this inspired Castillo to believe he could upset the prospect from Moldova. Castillo, 4-6 (3), continued to give Apostol issues in the second but the tall prospect eventually found his jab to ward him off by the middle rounds. Apostol’s straight right hand down the middle started to land often, and, soon enough, Castillo’s limited boxing ability reared its ugly head.
In the opening bout of the Top Rank undercard, Nicaraguan lightweight prospect Jose Salinas sent Carlos Apodaca to the canvas three times before the fight was stopped early in the second round. The contest was scheduled to go four.
Salinas, 5-0 (2), began Apodaca’s demise in the final minute of the first, in which his left hook abruptly dropped the Mexican during an exchange. With about 30 seconds to go in the opening round, Apodaca tried to survive with his legs but Salinas managed to find another hook to the head that sent him to his knees again before the round ended. Salinas, 20, showed great accuracy in his combination punching, with a hurt opponent in front of him, and a left to the liver at the end of a flurry, early in the second, sent Apodaca to the canvas again. Apodaca, 1-10-2, writhed in pain on the canvas before referee Rudy Barragan waived his count, and continued to lay in the fetal position for awhile afterward.