Jerwin Ancajas holds off challenger Jonathan Rodriguez, retains belt via UD

Ancajas and Rodriguez slug it out (1:43)

Jerwin Ancajas and Jonathan Rodriguez go toe to toe until the final bell of their IBF super flyweight title bout. (1:43)

Jerwin Ancajas successfully defended his IBF junior bantamweight championship for the ninth time as he scored a unanimous decision victory against Jonathan Rodriguez in an intense battle at the Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Connecticut. Sunday morning (Manila time).

Ancajas got the nod of all three judges with scores of 115-112, 116-111, and 117-110 in their bout that was part of the undercard of the Premier Boxing Champions-promoted Jaron Ennis-Sergey Lipinets welterweight clash. He sent the Mexican challenger down in the eighth round with a barrage of punches that helped swing the fight in his favor. It was the first time Rodriguez was knocked down in his career.

Ancajas (33-1-2, 22 KOs) retained the title he won in 2016. Rodriguez (22-2, 15 KOs) suffered just the second loss of his career as he lost his U.S. debut.

Ancajas last fought in December of 2019 with a knockout against Miguel Gonzalez in Mexico so there was a big question about his stamina due to ring rust. However, it was clear from his punch output that he trained as best as he could.

The Filipino world champion picked up a lot of the early rounds as he kept his distance but the second half of the fight was a war with both fighters standing toe-to-toe and throwing heavy leather.

Both fighters combined to throw 1,584 total punches in a highly entertaining and grueling bout, with Rodriguez outlanding Ancajas 273-232. But the Filipino champion connected with the more telling blows while also registering the bout's lone knockdown. Ancajas also went to the body more, landing more body shots 131-44, and had more jabs 56-20. Rodriguez had a big edge in power shots, 253-176.

Ancajas, whose left eye had some swelling, said this was his toughest defense. "This ninth title defense was the hardest," he admitted after the match. "My hat's off to Rodriguez because he showed his heart."

He then called out other big names at 115 pounds as he continues to seek a big fight at that weight class. He hopes to match up against the likes of Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

With additional reporting from Sid Ventura.