By Nick Giongco
Corpus Christi, Texas — Rising world boxing sensation Jerwin Ancajas put on a sizzling show Saturday night (Sunday in Manila) that prompted just about everyone to agree that he is destined to become the flag-bearer of Philippine boxing.
Ancajas, making the fourth defense of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight crown, stopped Mexican challenger Israel Gonzalez in the 10th round at the American Bank Center.
The win was clinical and while his style is not the same as Manny Pacquiao’s, the yardstick among Filipino fighters, Ancajas got the job done in stunning fashion, reminiscent of how the eight-division champion conducted his business on top of the ring.
Just as when the raucous crowd thought that the fight was going the distance of 12 rounds, Ancajas, 26, exploded with a right that staggered Gonzalez, 21, and sent him back-pedaling.
Moments later, a left decked Gonzalez for the second time after being down in the first round.
Sensing that Gonzalez was running low, Ancajas unleashed an overhand left that landed on the temple.
Just as soon as Gonzalez hit the floor, referee Rafael Ramos called a halt to the scheduled 12-rounder at the 1:50 mark.
“I knew I already had him in the eighth round when I felt that he was getting weaker and becoming slower,” Ancajas said in Tagalog after running his record to 29-1-1 with 20 KOs.
Gonzalez, who dropped to 20-2 with eight KOs, was consoled by Ancajas immediately after Ramos officially called a halt to the contest, a touching gesture not often seen in the macho sport.
When the fight was stopped, all three judges had Ancajas winning by a mile, 90-80, and it was clear that Gonzalez needed a miracle to win the bout that Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum arranged to showcase Ancajas’ talent.
Arum, who signed Ancajas to a three-fight contract for 2018, was visibly awed by his total domination.
“That was an excellent performance,” said Arum, who believes Ancajas “will become a fan favorite not only in the US but worldwide.”
Ancajas had won the IBF 115-lb title in September 2016 and he retained it thrice last year, traveling to Macau, Australia and Northern Ireland, before deciding to face Gonzalez here.
Making his US debut, Ancajas heard some boos from the crowd since many residents here are either Mexicans or Texans with Mexican lineage.
Gonzalez walked to the ring using a Mexican song while Ancajas’ entrance was accompanied by the rock and roll hit “Highway to Hell.”
Before going up the ring, Ancajas received an overseas call from Pacquiao, who reminded him to be patient in dealing with the counter-punching Gonzalez.
Ancajas’ corner was manned by chief trainer Joven Jimenez, Mark Anthony Barriga, Roberto Jalnaiz, Rodel Mayol, Delfin Boholst and Todd Makelim.
There are talks that Ancajas’ next fight will be underneath a Pacquiao headliner being eyed for April in New York City.