Jerwin Ancajas was perhaps the busiest of all Filipino champions this year with 3 successful title defenses. What’s impressive about those wins is that he seemed to improve in each of his fights.
With a spotless record, he deserves to be named fighter of the year.
Following a world junior-bantamweight title conquest over Puerto Rican belt-holder McJoe Arroyo in September 2016, Ancajas punished Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in January 2017, forcing the Mexican fighter to retire while at his corner after 7 rounds.
Six months later, Ancajas dropped Japan’s Teiru Kinoshita in Brisbane to retain the title in 7 rounds.
In November, Ancajas made it a hat-trick of victories with a 6-round demolition of Jamie Conlan of Northern Ireland.
“Magandang alalala ang 2017 sa ‘kin kasi itong taon ibinigay sa 'kin iyong magagandang laban,” said the mild-mannered fighter from Panabo City.
Due to his superb outing in 2017, “Pretty Boy” has been penciled to make another title defense early in 2018. This time, it will take place in the US.
“Sana sa 2018 mahigitan pa namin ang nagawa natin sa 2017,” said Ancajas.
Upset of the year: Pacquiao loses to Horn
Many expected to see Manny Pacquiao dominate a “greenhorn” such as Jeff Horn, but the Australian former schoolteacher from Brisbane used the right strategy, roughing up the smaller Pacquiao en route to the biggest win of Horn's career.
The Filipino boxer also wasn’t in his element in the fight, a sign that he might have underestimated the challenger.
Boxing magazine The Ring sums up the bout: "With only 17 fights under his belt and zero big-fight experience, what were the chances of Horn defeating one of the finest fighters of his generation? Well, oddsmakers installed him as a 10-1 underdog.
"Despite hurting Horn badly in the ninth, Pacquiao performed below par and the Australian challenger was much more energetic. At the end of 12 rounds, all three judges scored in favor of the new WBO welterweight titleholder. A complete shocker!"
Round of the Year: Melindo vs. Budler, Round 12
Milan Melindo's IBF junior flyweight title defense against South Africa's Hekkie Budler was too close too call. But it was in Round 12 where "El Metodico" gained enough cushion over his durable opponent to keep his belt.
With blood gushing from over both his eyes, the resilient Melindo was able to drop Budler with a short left to the jaw. Even though the South African immediately stood up, the damage had already been done.
Budler tried to rally but an exhausted Melindo gamely answered punch for punch.
In the end, the Filipino walked away with a split decison win to retain his title.
"Desidido na ako noon to engage kasi I have to win that 12th round," said Melindo. "Iyon po talaga ang championship round."
"Goal din kasi namin iyong ma-entertain ang crowd, kaya nag-all out na po kahit nauubusan na ng gas. Matibay lang din ang kalaban."
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