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Sports

Inoue, Ancajas size each other up ahead of title clash

Abac Cordero - Philstar.com
Inoue, Ancajas size each other up ahead of title clash
Jerwin Ancajas (right) hands a gift to upcoming opponent Takuma Inoue during the final press conference.
Wendell Alinea / MP Promotions

TOKYO – Reigning WBA bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue wore his poker face in Thursday’s final press conference and said the nicest things about his Filipino challenger Jerwin Ancajas.

“Ancajas is the best fighter I will ever face,” said the 28-year-old Inoue at the Tokyo Dome Hotel ballroom packed with Japanese mediamen with just a handful of Filipino scribes.

“I idolize Ancajas,” added the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, the undisputed super-bantamweight champion (WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO) and regarded by many as the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

Later on, the two boxers posed before the cameras with Takuma's championship belt hanging from his right shoulder. It's the first time they stood so close to one another, and in another 48 hours they'd be trading blows inside the ring.

Takuma, whose rib injury last November forced the rescheduling of this fight, said he watched videos of Ancajas fights and patterned his training from what he saw. But he knows that things differ inside the ring.

“Not sure until I face him,” said Takuma (18-1 with four knockouts) through an interpreter.

Ancajas, 32, smiled a lot during the noontime event and sat beside his American handler, Sean Gibbons of MP Promotions. His chief trainer, the jolly Joven Jimenez, was not at the head table, opting to stay on the sidelines with his video cam.

The former IBF super-flyweight champion from Davao del Norte, the more experienced fighter with 23 knockouts in 34 wins against three defeats and two draws, faced the Philippine media afterwards.

In a black leather jacket, amid the freezing temperature in the city, Ancajas tried to keep his cards close to his chest.

“Hindi naman natin siya ina-underestimate,” said Ancajas, just excited about Saturday’s fight at the Kokugikan Arena, and the news that his wife is pregnant with their fifth child.

But Ancajas, who decided to move up in weight after losing his last two fights and the world title at 115 pounds, said a knockout win over a boxer who’s never been knocked out would be the icing on the cake.

“Try natin. Subukan natin makakuha ng opening. Magandang bonus kung may knockout,” he said.

Gibbons, who knows boxing like the palm of his hands, said at 118 pounds, Ancajas could be a force to reckon with.

“In boxing, you can lose three fights in a row then beat a world champion and you’re back on top,” he said.

“The fight itself I’m not 100%. I’m 110% that Jerwin will win. On Saturday there’s going to be a new bantamweight champion,” Gibbons told the Japanese press, also through an interpreter.

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JERWIN ANCAJAS

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