Ancajas and Magsayo: A tale of 2 boxers

Over the weekend, Jerwin Ancajas defended his crown against a very aggressive Jonathan Javier Rodriguez. Ancajas won via a unanimous decision. Digging deep down, Ancajas proved he has what it takes to mix it up with the best fighters in his weight division.

On the same night and atop the same ring, Mark Magsayo, another Filipino is on his way to bigger fights after a sensational fourth-round knockout win against Pablo Cruz.

In the said event promoted by Premier Boxing Championships (PBC), Jerwin Ancajas and Mark Magsayo represented flag and country.  Having not just one but two Filipino boxers in an event this huge is a testament to the quality of the boxers and the tenacious work done by MP Promotions to get them on the card.

JERWIN “PRETTY BOY” ANCAJAS — SYSTEMATIC RISE

Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2), who has defended his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight crown eight times prior to this fight, has been touted to be the next big boxing name from the Philippines. His rise, although relatively silent, has been constant.

After winning over McJoe Arroyo back in 2016 to take the crown, Ancajas has methodically beaten all challengers in spectacular fashion. I first saw Ancajas live from ringside in Brisbane in July of 2017 as part of the undercard of the Pacquiao-Horn encounter. On that big stage, he showed everyone both his boxing prowess and punching power as he breezed through a technical knockout win over Teiru Kinoshita.

Although not as explosive as other fighters, Ancajas boasts of a 63% knockout to win ratio. Behind that silent power is outstanding counter-punching ability.    

Ancajas was originally set to face mandatory challenger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (22-2-0) late in 2019.  Unfortunately, the fight was cancelled due to his foe’s visa problems. COVID-19 then hit and just like all the other boxers, Ancajas had to wait it out.

Together with his longtime coach Joven Jimenez, Ancajas travelled to the United States in the middle of 2020 and since then has been waiting for the opportunity to get back up the ring.

MARK “MAGNIFICO” MAGSAYO — ROCKY ROAD TO NOW

Mark Magsayo (22-0), with an above average 66% knockout to win ratio, has always been a fighter considered as having a lot of potential. As he was an outstanding amateur and being one of the more prominent wards coming out of the famed Cebu-based ALA Boxing Stable, all eyes were on him. In 2017, his star started to shine as he won convincingly over Issa Nampepeche, Daniel Diaz and Shota Hayashi.    

Unfortunately due to contract disputes and the eventual closing down of ALA boxing caused by the pandemic, Magsayo found himself sidelined. The year 2018 was sort or a new beginning for him, but because of COVID-19, just like Ancajas, he was prevented from campaigning aggressively.

After months of uncertainty, Magsayo travelled to the United States and eventually signed up with MP Promotions.  He picked up where he left off when he finally fought again in October of 2020. He scored a controversial split decision against the very game Rigoberto Hermosillo. Although visibly burdened by ring rust, contrary to the scoring, experts saw a rejuvenated Magsayo, who in fact dominated the fight.   

TWO PATHS, SAME DESTINATION

Last March 22, during a press conference sponsored by Boss Cement, both Ancajas and Magsayo shared their plans.

Ancajas and his team were singing to an all too familiar tune.  They want the top three guys of the super flyweight division namely, Juan Estrada, Srisakit Sor Rungvisai and Roman Chocolatito Gonzales.

It is a wonder, though, that despite the IBF belt held firmly by Ancajas, a fight with any of the three has not materialized.  Some say it is because a fight with Ancajas does not represent huge financial returns. Experts share that this is brought about by the Filipino being too much of a defensive fighter, making his fights less appealing.  

Another point of view says that Ancajas does not have any coherent marketing push, which nowadays seems to be an integral component in the boxing business. There was a time in the Philippines when Jerwin, together with his coach and team, retreated to the mountains south of Manila to focus on his training and development. They aptly called it “survival camp” because of its Spartan set up.  The objective was to keep him focused and hungry.   The media was therefore hard-pressed to reach the Ancajas team for interviews and features.

But that is all water under the bridge now. They are hoping that his performance against Rodriguez will make him an interesting opponent for any of the three super fly stalwarts.  Team Ancajas feels that a win against any of them will get them the respect Jerwin seeks.

Magsayo, on the other hand, was more relaxed, stating that he will take it one fight at a time and allow his promoter and manager to guide his career.  However, he reiterated his dream to be a world champion and underscored his commitment of flying to the US during the pandemic. Teaming up with the legendary Freddie Roach is another sign of how dedicated he is to his goal.

At 25 years old, Magsayo is ripe for a crack at a belt.   

THE NEXT PACQUIAO

Many have asked who would be the next Pacquiao.  The correct response to that question is to not ask that question.  Pacquiao has already opened the door wide open for Filipino boxers to enter.  What the next generation of boxers will do once they are in is really up to them.   

With how the two Filipino pugilists performed, it is now time for Ancajas and Magsayo to complete their own stories.

* * *

Mike Ochosa is an avid sportsman.  He has written for various broadsheets and on line publication providing his thoughts and insights on various sports.  He is a freelance TV boxing analyst having sat ringside in 14 of Pacquiao’s fights and for various international sports networks as well. He was President of Punchout Boxing Club and is currently President and Program Director of Philippine Habagat Baseball.  

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