Junior bantamweight world titleholder Jerwin Ancajas, the first Manny Pacquiao-promoted boxer to win a world title, will make his first defense against Jose Alfredo Rodriguez on Jan. 29 at the Studio City casino resort in Macau, China, Ancajas adviser Sean Gibbons told ESPN on Wednesday.
Ancajas (25-1-1, 16 KOs), a 24-year-old southpaw from the Philippines, won a 115-pound title belt by dominant unanimous decision from then-undefeated McJoe Arroyo, of Puerto Rico, whom he knocked down in the eighth round, on Sept. 3 in Manila.
"This fight with Rodriguez has been in the works for the last few weeks, and now it's time to get Jerwin busy," Gibbons said. "He is one of the best at 115 pounds in the world, and with a little more experience, he'll be right there with all the top guys in the division, guys like [titleholder] Roman Gonzalez and [former titlist Carlos] Cuadras. He just needs a little more experience.
"A lot of people may not give him the credit he deserves for the win against McJoe Arroyo, but Jerwin beat one of the top-four guys in the division. Arroyo was undefeated going into the fight. That was a real fight. This kid just needs some exposure. He's good, he's exciting, and he's left-handed with power just like his promoter, Manny Pacquiao. He likes to mix it up and engage and give fans a good fight."
Gibbons said that though nobody will fill Pacquiao's considerable shoes once he retires, he thinks Ancajas has a chance to become the Philippines' top fighter and somebody who can excite fans all over.
"Somebody will step out of Manny Pacquiao's shadow, and I believe Jerwin has the type of ability," Gibbons said. "He just needs more exposure and needs to get to the U.S., where HBO is doing fights in that division with Gonzalez."
The fight with Rodriguez will give Ancajas his first American television exposure. Gibbons said it will air on Spanish-language cable sports network beIN Sports Espanol on tape delay.
Rodriguez (32-4, 19 KOs), 27, of Mexico, briefly held an interim junior flyweight title in 2011 and early 2012. He has won three fights in a row since dropping four of five bouts between 2012 and 2014, including a sixth-round knockout loss to Japan's Kazuto Ioka in a fight for a vacant junior flyweight world title.
The fight will be Rodriguez's second in the Philippines. In 2013 in Manila, he lost a unanimous decision to Milan Melindo, who last month won an interim junior flyweight title.
In the co-feature, heavyweights Bogdan Dinu (16-0, 12 KOs), 30, of Romania, and Raphael Tronche (8-0, 4 KOs), 27, of France, will square off in a scheduled 12-round bout for a regional belt.