MANILA -- Jerwin Ancajas will be coming in highly motivated to defend his IBF junior bantamweight crown when he returns to the ring against mandatory challenger Jonathan Rodriguez on April 10.
Not only will it be his first fight since getting sidelined by the pandemic, it will possibly be his ticket to marquee fights against junior bantamweight stars Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez.
MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons said this will be made possible with Ancajas signing up with Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
"This opportunity (with PBC) came up and kind of opened things up. if Jerwin is successful on April 10th, we have the chance to fight the best of the best," Gibbons said in an online presser with Ancajas and another MP Promotions handled fighter Mark Magsayo.
"We have (with PBC) the 'Rat King' Rungvisai, we have Chocolatito and Estrada."
Ancajas' bouts were previously handled by Bob Arum's Top Rank, which was forced to release the Filipino after struggling to find fight dates for the "Pretty Boy" due to visa issues and the pandemic.
"We're still good with Top Rank, we're still good with Bob Arum...
There was no issue with them; the issue is with the dates, the visa and the pandemic," said Gibbons.
With PBC, Ancajas has been given a bigger chance of landing that title unification bout he has always wanted.
It's either that, or he gets what Gibbons describes as a "signature fight."
"Jerwin has fought a lot of good fights... but you always want that big name that everybody recognizes that boxing people and media say 'That's the guy. We know this guy, he beats that guy,'" said Gibbons.
Since Estrada and Gonzalez are likely to figure in another rematch, the MP Promotions executive believes Ancajas has the biggest chance in landing a fight against Rungvisai.
"Rungvisai is kind of the odd man out now. He was supposed to rematch with Juan Estrada. But it looks like they're gonna do Juan Estrada versus Chocolatito 3. That's always the fight Jerwin likes, he loves the style, he loves the fight. We hope we can get that," said Gibbons.
"There has been a lot of criticism over the year that he hasn't fought the top guys, we're ready now."
But first, Ancajas will have to beat Rodriguez in impressive fashion.
The fight is scheduled to take place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut in a card headlined by a welterweight bout between top prospect Jaron Ennis and former 140-pound titlist Sergey Lipinets.
"Kaya itong laban na ito, ito ang finocus ko ngayon," said Ancajas who has been training in the US for over 5 months now.
"Ito ang susi na makalaban ako sa unification, lalo na kay Rungvisai. Matagal ko nang hinahangad na makalaban sila. Ibubuhos ko dito ang kung anumang pinaghandaan namin."
Also included in the card is undefeated featherweight prospect Mark Magsayo who will fight Pablo Cruz.