IBF superflyweight world champion Jerwin Ancajas will step back in the ring once again to defend his title for the sixth time against Mexican slugger Alejandro Santiago Barrios.
The fight is set for September 29 (30 in Manila) in Pechanga, California.
For matchmaker Sean Gibbons, the fight with Santiago will test Ancajas (30-1-1, 20 KOs) if he's ready for the big dogs of the 115-pound division next year, namely top contender Juan Francisco Estrada and WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
"His goal is to fight (them) but right now due to Estrada having a fight September 8, Rungvisai has a fight (on October 6) then they're going to fight each other. But Jerwin wants to fight guys who are similar in style."
In an exclusive interview with ESPN5 last July 27, Gibbons shared that they're moving the fight from September 14 to the 29th to give Ancajas time to be with his partner who's expected to give birth in the second week of September.
Santiago Barrios is currently ranked 14th in the IBF ratings but make no mistake, Gibbons warns that he is a deadly opponent.
"He's fighting a very tough, durable Mexican fighter and the reason we picked Santiago for this fight which is not mandatory but voluntary is Jerwin asked me to get fighters like Juan Estrada," Gibbons explained. "That's why Survival Camp is already making the necessary preparations to make sure Ancajas gives the fans his best come end of September."
Ancajas's coach Joven Jimenez reveals they have been preparing for Santiago Barrios since for a while now. "We started training last month," Jimenez said in Filipino. "We've been watching video and studying the moves of Santiago Barrios. We've been training based on what we've seen in the videos. Right now Jerwin's training is at 86 to 87%. We are slowly building it up and he's already started sparring."
Survival Camp will also limit Ancajas's social activities so they can focus on improving his conditioning and power.
"Last time (against Jonas Sultan) he had too many social calls," Jimenez said. "We've talked about it and decided there's something lacking. We weren't able to fully implement his training. And he looked tired, like there was something weighing him down. We'll be stricter now, and just stay inside the camp. We will only go out to jog."
Jimenez will also make sure that their game plan will be put in effect this time.
"Every round last time I wasn't comfortable with what he did," he continued. "Our program wasn't followed. And we want to improve his power."
Santiago Barrios (16-2-4, 7 KOs) is coming off a split draw last March against Jose Martinez. He has fought exclusively in Mexico, mostly in his hometown of Tijuana, and will be taking a major step up in competition against Ancajas.
ESPN5's Sid Ventura contributed to this report.