FRESNO, Calif. -- It had taken 93 years for an all-Filipino world title fight to take place, and in the end it was a one-sided exhibition of Jerwin Ancajas' technically flawless skills.
The southpaw from Panabo City, Philippines, retained his IBF junior bantamweight title for the fifth time, outboxing mandatory challenger Jonas Sultan to a unanimous decision victory. The scores were 119-109 on two cards and 117-111 on a third.
Ancajas (30-1-1, 20 knockouts) controlled the fight from the opening round with his piston-like jab, closing off all entry points for Sultan (14-4, 9 KOs) to get on the inside and do work. Ancajas followed his jab with straight lefts to the midsection and the head and landed sneaky counter-right hooks whenever Sultan lunged forward without his jab.
Sultan had been stunned momentarily in the ninth round but wasn't ever close to being stopped in the fight.
"It's not that I didn't want to hurt him; I just didn't want to be overconfident because we know Jonas Sultan also counters," said Ancajas.
The crowd was restless after an entertaining fight, which preceded the main event, and let it be known, but Ancajas never wavered from his game plan of boxing and counterpunching. Sultan had some success peppered throughout the whitewash, landing left hooks over the right hand of Ancajas from time to time but never could get anything of note going.
Ancajas and Sultan, both 26, began mixing it up more in the 12th round, giving the fans a bit of a show when the fight already had been decided.
"It was a good experience to fight against Jonas. He hits hard, has a true heart of a Filipino," said Ancajas. "As I've said before It's really tough to fight vs Filipinos because they continue to keep fighting."
It was the first world title bout between two Filipinos since 1925, when Pancho Villa defended the world flyweight title against Clever Sencio in Manila.
Ancajas' matchmaker Sean Gibbons says the reason Ancajas fought a safety-first style was the head clashes that often come with an orthodox vs. southpaw matchup.
"You should put a glove on top of poor Jonas' head the way that he boxes. The head comes before the punch so after Jerwin got butted I think he got very cautious," said Gibbons, who was happy to see Ancajas get the win, even if it wasn't always pretty.
"He put a clinic on him. You put Jerwin with David Carmona and he looks like a million dollars."
Ancajas' next opponent may be the man who had his hand raised in the co-featured bout. Kal Yafai (24-0, 15 KOs) had a more entertaining than expected performance in his United States debut, dropping David Carmona in the first and fourth rounds, plus twice in the fifth before an exhausted and battered Carmona remained on his stool following the seventh.
There was danger throughout for Yafai, the WBA 115-pound titleholder from Birmingham, United Kingdom, who was supposed to be making his third title defense until Carmona blew the weigh-in by 3.6 pounds the day before. The fight went on as a nontitle bout, and the size advantage Carmona enjoyed helped even the disparity in talent as he stunned Yafai with a left hook shortly after getting off the canvas in the first round.
Whether he was consciously trying to make an impression on American fans or he was sucked into a brawl due to his early success, Yafai altered preconceived perceptions of him as a spoiler type of fighter who uses every inch of the ring to outmaneuver opponents.
The loss sends Carmona to his fourth loss in his past five fights and drops his record to 21-6-5 (9 KOs).
Gibbons withdrew his earlier criticism of Yafai as a "spoiler" and said he'd be open to making Ancajas vs. Sultan, though it wasn't his priority.
"He actually surprised me," said Gibbons. "We're definitely open to fight the guy."
Yafai's promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing said an Ancajas unification is "possible", but they'd also entertain a fight with former junior bantamweight boss Roman Gonzalez, who was one of the sport's biggest stars before suffering back-to-back losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
"It was a good performance from Kal Yafai tonight. He wants to unify," said Hearn. "When you look at the champions I think Ancajas is not the easiest, but the easiest to do a deal with to make that fight.
"It's definitely on the horizon and quite possibly next."
In an entertaining preliminary fight, Filipino boxer John Vincent Moralde (20-1, 10 KOs) scored a unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten Ugandan Ismail Muwendo (19-1, 12 KOs) in their eight-round junior lightweight fight. Moralde, 24, of Davao City scored knockdowns in Rounds 1 and 5 from left-hook counters and hung in tough as the determined Muwendo sought a comeback knockout in the late rounds.
The scores were 77-73 on two cards and 76-74 on the third, redeeming Moralde from his last fight, a seventh-round stoppage loss against Toka Kahn Clary in his U.S. debut in December.
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