The War Report: Much more (Week 46, 2017)
In perhaps the most impressive performance of last weekend, Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas solidified his threat to the junior bantamweight class in his stoppage win over Jamie Conlan on Saturday and, if he’s not too careful in the near future, he could be a part of something much more.
Taking place at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Ancajas, 28-1-1 (19), was up against an unbeaten yet unproven contender with the benefit of a hometown audience but not even their lively support could revive Conlan’s unfolding. Those fans were abruptly silenced midway through the opening round after a left hand to the body sent their guy to a knee in one of the longest delayed reactions you’ll ever see. They tried to stir him on in the closing moments of the second - just after Conlan suffered a leaky cut over his left eye - and, when he was forced to another knee in the third round, after a few more body blows, they grew louder as Conlan looked ready to get up. He did and somehow didn’t fall again, after Ancajas relentlessly beat him for the remaining 10 seconds of the round.
Conlan, 19-1 (11), was clearly out-gunned against the Filipino southpaw but proved his bravery in the fourth. With Ancajas mixing in more head shots to his attack, soon enough, Conlan found himself hunched over against the ropes without recourse but a desperation hook of his kept referee Steve Gray from stepping in, when he had the opportunity. Conlan then spent the final 10 seconds of the round on his knees and pounding his gloves on the canvas, thanks to another left to the gut. The body shots continued in the fifth and, to make matters worse for Conlan, they started to stray low. Time was called by Gray, on two separate occasions, and a point was inducted from Ancajas but, to no avail, another body shot staggered the Irishman in the closing seconds.
A grazing shot near the back of the head had Conlan down the fourth and final time of the fight, in the fateful sixth round. He got up well enough in time but Gray waved his arms as Conlan put his gloves on his hips without complaint.
Fighting out of Cavite City, Philippines, Ancajas succesfully defended his IBF junior bantamweight title a third time, in what has been a banner year for the 25-year-old since beating McJoe Arroyo for the belt a year ago. Jose Rodriguez, Teiru Kinoshita and now Conlan have been the victims of Ancajas stoppage wins in 2017 and he scored them in Macau, China, Brisbane, Australia and Belfast, respectively. Given the stage on which he took Saturday night, comparisons to eight-division great Manny Pacquiao can be seen flying out there and, while this isn’t the first or the last time that will happen to prisoners of the moment, this time it may not be all that far-fetched.
For one, Pacquiao himself would probably give that stamp of approval, seeing he’s Ancajas’ promoter and, secondly, shades of the “Pac-Man” can actually be seen in the Pretty Boy’s style. Ancajas sports the jittery feints that lead into his fluid combinations and he even taps his gloves like Pacquiao, when he misses an opportunity. While the speed Pacquiao possessed seems insurmountable, Ancajas is quick enough to take the lead and seems to have the will to take a risk, with that advantage in mind, like his predecessor. Good fights often follow those types of fighters around and, given the landscape of what is around Ancajas, there are opponents who can help propel his stardom.
The 115-pound class is currently rich with talent and a unification bout with Naoya Inoue (WBO), Khalid Yafai (WBA) and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (WBC), would be a tremendous match-up that would help clear up the debate of who sits atop the division. Of course, Ancajas’ United States debut would need to happen before he reaches any type of fame near Pacquiao’s and, to his benefit, there hasn’t been this much exposure of boxing’s little big men in quite some time. “SuperFly” may be a reccurring event on HBO, should the division continue to supply the talent, and there would really be no better place to package Ancajas, being this generation’s Pacquiao. An imminent move up in weight would be necessary to further that narrative, of course, and with Inoue moving up to bantamweight, sooner than later, Ryan Burnett (IBF/WBC), Luis Nery (WBC) and Zolani Tete (WBO) await the opponents that can help propel them as well…