MANILA -- If he gets to choose, IBF junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas would like to fight former pound-for-pound king Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez.
Ancajas, who is set to defend his crown against Mexican banger Jonathan Javier Rodriguez this weekend, said the Nicaraguan champion is someone he looks up to.
"For me, I want to fight Chocolatito. I saw him in the TV, he's my idol," the "Pretty Boy" said during the press conference ahead of this weekend's bout. "If I get the opportunity, I'll fight him."
Ancajas watched the rematch between Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada and thought his idol won that fight.
It was an extremely close fight, but the Mexican champion eked out a split decision.
"For me, Chocolatito (won)," said Ancajas.
Ancajas now has to impress against Rodriguez for a chance to meet Gonzalez or any of the top stars in the junior bantamweight class.
Although he is the longest reigning champion in the 115-pound division with eight successful title defenses, he has yet to get the kind of recognition accorded to the likes of Gonzalez, Estrada and Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons said Ancajas is very much motivated to impress, especially after being absent from the ring since December 2019.
"He knows one day it will come, he'll get the opportunity to fight one of those guys," Gibbons said.
"He wants a signature fight. He's tired of a lot people criticizing, saying he hasn't fought everybody even though he beat one of the best champion ever in McJoe Arroyo and had some nice wins along the way. Everybody wants a signature fight."
But Rodriguez is determined to derail Ancajas' plans.
In fact, the Mexican was able to slip in a tune up fight last December just to prepare for the Filipino technician.
"He's a great opponent, he's got great fans, but he's not faced a rival like me. On Saturday night, I'm going to put the pressure on him from the very beginning," said the Mexican bruiser. "We understand what his weaknesses are, his strengths are. Come Saturday, I'm going to show what I've trained for."
The two will collide at the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).