Jerwin Ancajas swore Sunday he could have handed over his cherished International Boxing Federation super-flyweight crown on a silver platter to Mexican challenger Jonathan Rodriguez.
“If I didn’t train long and hard for this fight, I could have lost the title,” Ancajas told Daily Tribune after the Filipino southpaw repulsed the bid of Rodriguez via a 12-round unanimous decision at the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. “This was the hardest and most difficult of all my defenses,” Ancajas, 29, said moments after raising his record to 33-1-2 with 22 knockouts.
The scorecards of the three judges didn’t reflect how Rodriguez gave Ancajas a taste of hell.
Tony Paolillo scored it 115-112 while Tom Schreck saw it 116-111 and Don Trella had it 117-110 for the Filipino southpaw, who was making the ninth defense of the title he had won in September 2016.
While the scoresheets suggested that Ancajas won quite handily, the punchstats proved otherwise.
Ancajas only led in jabs, connecting 56 of 331 thrown for 18 percent while Rodriguez landed just 20 of 242 for a measly 8 percent.
In the power punches department, Rodriguez had the upperhand, scoring 253 out of 584 for 43 percent. In contrast, Ancajas hit 176 of 447 for 39 percent.
Overall, Rodriguez was slightly better: 273 landed out of 826 thrown for 33 percent Ancajas averaged 31 percent, scoring 232 of 758 but was credited for a whopping 131 body blows compared to Rodriguez’s dismal 44.
Still, Ancajas provided the major spark in the all-action bout, sending Rodriguez down and almost out towards the end of the eighth round.
“I thought he was no longer going to continue but I admire him for his courage,” Ancajas said, noting that there were a couple of instances in the ninth round that Rodriguez, he thought, was close to calling it quits.
But instead of fading away, Rodriguez actually got the nod of the three judges in the last three rounds.
It wasn’t enough nonetheless as Ancajas, fighting for the first time in 16 months, had built up a comfortable lead.
“I don’t think it was a just decision,” said Rodriguez, whose loss dropped his mark to 22-2 with 16 knockouts.
Rodriguez, 25, insists the scores should have been closer.
“I thought maybe a split decision, and I would accept it a little more. But we knew coming in that the judges were against us in this fight.”
The Mexican’s face looked as if he just sparred, but that of Ancajas was proof that the challenger wasn’t sourgraping.
His left eye puffy, Ancajas took some hellish shots from Rodriguez, who stood his ground amid the champion’s two-fisted surge to the head and body.
In fact, when Ancajas unleashed rat-a-tat combinations, Rodriguez answered back with impunity.
When the mushroom cloud dissipated, Philippine boxing held its head high not only because of Ancajas’ triumph but the victory as well of featherweight Mark Magsayo, who knocked out Pablo Cruz in the undercard.
“The first thing Al Haymon (of Premier Boxing Champions) told me was when do I want Mark to fight next,” said MP Promotions chief Sean Gibbons, who described the night as “a big day for Filipino boxing.”
As for Ancajas, his tentative return date is September, according to Gibbons.