Jerwin Ancajas said he had a hard time, but observers felt that the 29-year-old Filipino champion made it all look easy during the ninth defense of his International Boxing Federation junior bantamweight crown on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Ancajas prevailed by unanimous decision over Mexican Jonathan Rodriguez during the first bout of a triple-header at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“Hats off to Rodriguez because he showed his heart. This ninth title defense was the hardest,” Ancajas admitted after the match.
Don’t tell that, however, to all the three judges, who scored the match in favor of Ancajas, 115-112, 116-111, 117-110, as he improved his fight record to 32 wins, one loss and two draws, with 22 KOs.
On the other hand, Rodriguez now has a 22-2 record with 16 KOs, with Ancajas snapping his six-fight win streak.
Coming off a 16-month layoff, Ancajas showed enthusiasm and energy in facing Rodriguez, who has been waiting for a mandatory challenge since November 2019, as the Mexican made it close twice in the early rounds.
He started attacking first, but Ancajas managed to counter and utilized his lefts to attack the body.
Ancajas was able to get the better hits in the sixth round, landing hard shots to the body, but Rodriguez made it even by doing the same.
Ancajas knocked down Rodriguez with a right to the body in the eighth round to gain a headway on points.
In the ninth, Rodriguez carried on and came out swinging, but the relentless attack to the body from Ancajas started taking its toll on the challenger.
With the win, Ancajas will hopefully have a unification bout with Kazuto Ioka, a junior bantamweight.
Other possible matches could take place against Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Ancajas last defended his title on December 2019, when he stopped Miguel Gonzalez in six rounds in Mexico.
Meanwhile, Mark Magsayo (22-0, 15 KOs) remained spotless after putting Pablo Cruz (21-4, 6 KOs) to sleep in the fourth round in an earlier fight.
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