In a leafy, backyard gym setup in Magallanes, Cavite province, world champ Jerwin Ancajas continues to put in the hard work for a fight that he hopes would open the doors to the big stage.

Careful not to peak too soon or lag too much, the reigning IBF super flyweight champ trains and spars even though it remains uncertain his fight against Mexican Jonathan Rodriguez will push through.

In his training videos, Ancajas looks every inch his desired image: The “next big Filipino boxing superstar.” He runs through provincial roads and trains with the Philippine Navy Special Operations Group.

Despite the schedule disruptions, Ancajas kept his target in sight: a victory impressive enough to key a lucrative unification fight down the road.

“We just continue to prepare. The nature and military training are doing him very good,” his manager, Joven Jimenez, told the Inquirer.

But they see to it that the “volume and intensity of training” is just at the right levels. After all, nothing is sure yet. The fight has been postponed twice before.

Now, they are waiting for the US Embassy in Manila to open its visa counters very soon. The plan is to fly to Las Vegas for an August date with Rodriguez.

Jerwin Ancajas wants to keep himself sharp for his next bout. —PHOTO FROM TOP RANK TWITTER

‘Bubble’ boxing

Jimenez said they are looking at a July 31 appointment with the embassy. “It’s just an interview, we are confident Jerwin will get his visa without any problem.”

The 24-year-old Rodriguez (21-1-0 with 15 KOs) had trouble securing his US visa, which caused their original Nov. 1, 2019, title bout to be postponed. It was reset for April 11 but a lockdown was declared in a bid to contain the rapid rise of coronavirus numbers in the country.

The fight against Rodriguez, according to Jimenez, is one that is lined up for the Top Rank and MGM Grand’s “bubble,” which quarantines the boxers as well as everybody else involved in the production.

Starting June, the outfit that used to carry Manny Pacquiao’s fights has been staging bouts in an attempt to spearhead boxing’s return amid the global threat of COVID-19.

The fights inside the bubble are held in front of empty stands. “It’s OK for Jerwin to fight without live audience,” Jimenez said, citing the mileage his ward could get via TV and internet.

After the postponement last November, Ancajas moved on and destroyed Chilean Miguel Gonzalez in Mexico last Dec. 7. But he hasn’t seen action since then.

He is being handled by Pacquiao’s MP Promotions and holds a record of 32 wins, one loss, two draws and 22 stoppages.

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