Comparing Jerwin Ancajas to a young Manny Pacquiao is unavoidable. Both are southpaws, they stand at 5-foot-6, and they even have nearly identical reaches at around 67 inches. The comparison is unfair to Ancajas, of course, as reaching a Pacquiao-level of success is not for every athlete to accomplish.
However, as the “Pambansang Kamao” is flirting with retirement to focus on his political career, this leaves Filipinos questioning: Can Ancajas become the poster boy of the nation’s boxing scene in a post-Pacquiao Philippines?
Numbers don’t lie
Comparing these two Filipinos is unjust, like apples to oranges so the saying goes. But looking at their statistics side by side, are they really that much different?
Ancajas, 26, already owns 29 wins with 20 knockouts while only suffering a defeat and a draw. In 2005, 26-year-old Pacquiao was 40-3-2 with 31 knockouts. While Pacquiao noticably has more wins when he was Ancajas’ age, the younger boxer has fewer defeats.
One could argue that Jerwin is still on pace to catch up with Pacquiao’s numbers. All he has to do is to keep winning, never lose twice, and he might come up with a better-looking record than the boxer-turned-senator.
Ancajas is the current IBF junior bantamweight titleholder and he scheduled to defend his strap against compatriot Jonas Sultan this year. Pacquiao, meanwhile, at 26 had won five major titles in three different categories.
Then again, Ancajas could win more gold should he focus on boxing alone, unlike the multi-tasking mega-star forerunner. Even sticking to the numbers does not give us a fair nor complete comparison of the two – there are just too many questions and what-ifs that need to be answered.
The problem with numbers, however, is that it is not everything. Muhammad Ali is still hailed as the greatest of all time even if his record says otherwise. Just like Donnie Nietes has been undefeated for 14 years and holds a record of 41-1-4 with 23 KO’s, but he is not the most popular Filipino boxer.
The same can be said when speculating about Ancajas’ future. Having a better or worse record than Pacquiao does determine—one way or another—the ceiling of his success and fame.
Being a superstar athlete is more than just having the numbers. Charisma, swagger, and X-factor are icon-making ingredients that cannot be measured by any statistic known today.
Will Ancajas develop these intangibles as he continues on with his career? There is no way of telling.
Ancajas is a boxing prodigy and he proved it when he TKO’d Israel Gonzalez last month, and Jamie Conlan and Teiru Kinoshita before that. Jerwin is building his momentum. He is riding a six-year winning streak and only elite fighters can achieve that.
Ancajas is a superstar in his own right. The fact that he has been getting Manny comparison, speaks of his promising potential. That also tells us that he has been captivating boxing fans, which should be the first step to mega-stardom.
Will Ancajas be the future of Filipino boxing? Absolutely, he has the talent that could propel him to the top. Is he the next Pacquiao? No. He is the first Jerwin Ancajas.
Photos courtesy of the Manila Bulletin Photography Team