Saturday night sees two major super-flyweight contests from Fresno, California. The main event pits IBF super-flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas up against mandatory challenger Jonas Sultan. This will be the first time in over 90 years that a world title fight will be contested by two Filipino boxers, so although the fight is taking place in the US, it is sure to be a great occasion back home.
Ancajas is making the 5th defence of his title he won back in 2016 against McJoe Arroyo. Unusually for a Filipino, that fight took place on home soil, but since then, in true Pinoy style, Ancajas has been on the road, defending 0his title in 4 different countries. Although none of these defences have been against real world-class opposition, he has looked impressive with his power and speed, blowing away all four opponents inside the distance.
Sultan is a definite step up in class. Although not a hyped prospect when rising up the ranks, he has really impressed in recently, knocking out seasoned veteran Sonny Boy Jaro and upsetting 2-weight world titlist John Riel Casimero in his last two fights. In these most recent wins (particularly the latter), Sultan displayed not just clever counter-punching abilities, but also effective pressure fighting, using his strength to good effect.
Ancajas will be an even stiffer task for Sultan than either of his last two opponents. Not only is he naturally bigger than Jaro and Casimero, but he is also quicker of hand and foot, more accurate and more powerful too. However, there is an element of the unknown about Ancajas, as for all of his impressive performances, Sultan is on paper his toughest opponent to date.
Potentially, the winner of that clash could face off against Britain’s Kal Yafai, who defends his WBA title against David Carmona on the same card. After winning his title in December 2016 in an excellent performance against Luis Concepcion, Yafai looked solid, if not spectacular, against Suguru Muranaka and Sho Ishida. Like those two challengers, Carmona is not at the very top of the division, but is a decent enough opponent for Yafai’s American debut.
On paper, the Mexican’s recent form is poor, with only a single win in his last four outings. However, aside from a stoppage loss up at bantamweight, he has performed well in the last few years. A sub-par Naoya Inoue was made to go the 12-round distance for the first time against Carmona, with the Mexican having moments of success. He also pushed former WBC champion Carlos Cuadras hard last March, losing by unanimous decision in a very close fight. Yafai can fight at range and up close, but Carmona can jab and move well too. If his loss up at bantamweight hasn’t taken too much out of him, he could frustrate Yafai.
Both Ancajas and Yafai should have enough in their respective lockers to win this weekend. However, neither fighter can afford to rest on their laurels as they look to set up a potential unification bout in the near future.