Jerwin Ancajas retained his IBF junior bantamweight world title on a unanimous decision Saturday, surviving a stiff test from challenger Jonathan Rodriguez to record his ninth straight title defence.
The 29-year-old Ancajas had to reach into his full bag of tricks to beat the Mexican, with the three judges scoring 117-110, 116-111, and 115-112 in the Filipino's favor at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Norwich, Connecticut.
Ancajas improved to 32-1-2, with 22 KOs after beating the mandatory challenger in the 115-pound weight class.
Ancajas, who is one of six current Filipino world champions, knocked Rodriguez (22-2, 16 KOs) down in the eighth round in the hard-hitting fight.
Rodriguez did surprisingly well fighting inside and even landed some of his best punches after the knockdown as he made Ancajas work for the win.
The 25-year-old Rodriguez was coming off a first round knockout of one-time world title challenger Julian Yedras in December.
Ancajas was supposed to defend his belt against Rodriguez last April, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic the fight was postponed.
Ancajas last defended his title on December 2019, when he stopped Miguel Gonzalez in six rounds in Mexico.
Also, American Joe Smith bounced back in the late rounds to claim the vacant WBO light heavyweight championship with a majority decision over Russian Maxim Vlasov in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The judges scored the bout for Smith, 115-112, 115-113, 114-114.