At Oakland, Calif. (ESPN+):
Jerwin Ancajas vs. Alejandro Santiago Barrios, 12 rounds
By Jim Dower, boxingnews24.com IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1, 20 KOs) will be back inside the ring on September 28 to defend his title on a Top Rank Boxing card on ESPN+ in California, according to Dan Rafael. The opponent and the venue still are in the planning stages, but #10 WBO Alejandro Santiago Barrios (16-2-4, 7 KOs) is being mentioned as the potential opponent.
Barrios recently fought to a 10 round draw against Jose Martinez five months ago on March 24. If the 22-year-old Barrios turns out to be Ancajas’ opponent, it would continue with the recent style that Top Rank has been matching the 26-year-old Filipino fighter. They seems to be matching Ancajas against weak opposition what appears to be a move to increase his popularity the easy way by having him fight in showcase fights against over-matched opposition. It’s a tried and true way of making a fighter look invincible before eventually throwing him in a sink or swim bout against a top flight opponent. It often backfires though on the promoters that follow this method of career-building, as when they do eventually match their fighters against a good opponent, they’re often not ready for the sudden step up in class.
Ancajas has recently beaten Jonas Sultan, Israel Gonzalez and Jamie Conlan since Top Rank took over as his promoter. Before that, Ancajas was being matched tough against Teiru Kinoshita, Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, McJoe Arroyo and Mark Anthony Geraldo.
In a questionable move, Ancajas isn’t competing in the SuperFly series against the top lions like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Juan Francisco Estrada, Carlos Cuadras, McWilliams Arroyo. Ancajas would be able to prove himself if he fought in the SuperFly competition. However, with Top Rank signing an exclusive partnership with ESPN, it makes fights between Ancajas and guys like Estrada, Roman Gonzalez and Rungvisai difficult to make, as they fight on HBO now. Putting Ancajas on ESPN+ app is also a questionable decision by Top Rank, because it means fewer boxing fans are going to be able to see him fight. A lot of fans are resistant to the idea to pay $5 per month for the ESPN+ app. While some boxing fans are fine with paying extra to watch boxing on ESPN, the traditionalists are resisting paying extra to stream fights on their computers. The smart way for Top Rank to increase Ancajas’ popularity would be for him to compete on regular ESPN, and it would be good to put him in the SuperFly competition so that he can prove himself against the top super flyweights like Roman Gonzalez, Rungvisai, Estrada and Cuadras.
It’s possible that Ancajas will fail when Top Rank does eventually step him up against those type of fighters, but at least they would know what they have in him and cut move on to signing better talent. It’s not a good sign that Ancajas has already been beaten by journeyman Mark Anthony Geraldo (35-9-3, 16 KOs) by a 10 round majority decision six years ago in 2012. Ancajas has won 17 consecutive fights since then, but the victories have come against less than the best opposition.