Jerwin Ancajas and Khalid Yafai make title defenses on May 26
By Chris Williams: Super flyweight champions Jerwin Ancajas and Khalid Yafai will both be defending their titles on the same card on May 26 at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. The fights will be streamed on ESPN+.
The televised portion of the May 26 Top Rank promoted card will start at 6:30 ET. Top Rank put together a 12-fight deal with ESPN to have their fighters televised on their network. The idea behind having Ancajas and Yafai making solid defenses on the same card is to build up to a unification fight between the two of them in late 2018.
Ancajas (29-1-1, 20 KOs) will be defending his IBF 115 lb. title for the fourth time against mandatory challenger Jonas Sultan (14-3, 9 KOs) in the main event on the card in what should be a thrilling fight. Ancajas could be turned into a Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez type star by Top Rank. They want to make him a huge star, but it’s going to take a lot of work for them to do that because the 115 lb. weight class isn’t one of the more popular ones in boxing. However, K2 Promotions proved that they could gain a significant fan base for Roman Gonzalez after a couple of years of placing his fights on the undercard of the popular middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. It might prove to be a little tougher for Top Rank to duplicate the efforts by K2, as Ancajas doesn’t have help by his fights being placed on the undercard of a popular fighter like GGG.
Ancajas has made past successful title defenses against Israel Gonzalez, Jamie Conlan and Teiru Kinohita. Sultan could prove to be the toughest opponent to date for Ancajas.
“I am so glad and very grateful that I was given an opportunity to fight Jonas Sultan,” Ancajas said to ESPN.com. “We are given a chance to display our talents on a world stage, two Filipinos fighting for a world title. This is history, and our names will be linked forever.”
This match-up between Filipino fighters will be the first championship level fight between two Filipinos since 1925. That was a fight between flyweight champion Pancho Villa and Clever Sencio. Both fighters passed away not long after their fight. Villa died in 1925 and Sencio in 1926.
WBA super flyweight champion Khalid Yafai (23-0, 14 KOs will be defending against the struggling 26-year-old David Carmona (21-5-5, 9 KOs) in the co-feature bout. This match-up isn’t quite as good as the Yafai vs. Sultan fight. Carmona, 26, has lost three out of his last four fights since 2016. With a record of 1-3 in his last 4 contests, Carmona is not worthy of a title shot at this point in his career, but he’s getting the opportunity anyway due to his name recognition. Carmona’s recent defeats have come against Naoya Inoue, Carlos Cuadras and Daniel Lozano. Carmona deserved a win against Cuadras last year in March in my estimation, but the judges gave it to the more popular fighter. Carmona also has past defeats to Omr Andres Narvaez and Fernando Curiel.
Ancajas, 26, is seen by some boxing fans as the next Manny Pacquiao. I don’t know if you can compare Ancajas with Pacquiao in terms of their style of fighting, but they are both southpaws from the Philippines. Ancajas is slower than Pacquiao, and more of a body puncher. Pacquiao has largely been a head hunter with huge power in his left hand. Ancajas has more evenly balanced power in both hands, and he fights a lot differently. Ancajas likes to throw a lot of jabs to the body as well as power shots.
Yafai, 28, is promoted by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing in the UK. Hearn wants to make Yafai a household name in the UK, but he thus far hasn’t had enough big-name opponents to increase his popularity in a substantial way. Beating Carmona won’t do much for Yafai’s popularity but defeating Ancajas definitely will. That would be a huge win for Yafai if he can get past the hard hitting Filipino. Hearn is also interested in matching Yafai against Roman Gonzalez. That would be a tremendous fight for British boxing fans. Hearn hasn’t shown the same interest yet in matching Yafai against WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Perhaps at some point in the future, Hearn will try and make that fight. That would be a dangerous fight for Yafai, as would the Ancajas fight.