By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This time, we take a look at a historic boxing match between two Filipino boxers, the amazing Chloe Kim is at it again, and we get a preview of the two Asian nations participating in the World Cup.
Historical Filipino fight in Fresno
Jerwin Ancajas defeated Jonas Sultan via unanimous decision in a battle of two Filipino boxers in Fresno, Calif. Ancajas retained his junior bantamweight (115 pound) title. It was the first title fight between two Filipino boxers in 93 years. While there are many Filipino boxers in the sport, a fight between two countrymen is unique. Ancajas, a 26-year-old who turned pro at the age of 17, is a protégé of Manny Pacquiao. Sultan, also 26, started his pro career at the age of 21. As cliché as it may be in the sport of boxing, both fighters came from meager beginnings to make something of themselves in the punishing sport of boxing.
Ancajas and his older brother Jesar are professional boxers. They were both indoctrinated into the sport as a way out of the poverty they lived in growing up in the Philippines. Ancajas became a top amateur and relocated to live with a trainer in hopes of finding better competition.
Pacquiao befriended Ancajas and the fighter now owns a training center in the Philippines.
The challenger, Sultan, learned to play guitar via YouTube videos. This pastime helps calm his nerves. Sultan’s sole focus is on being a champion and does not care about the fame or stardom that come with it. One of eight kids, his father put him and his two brothers into boxing. He did not have a formal trainer or amateur career, and turned pro after fighting in exhibition fights.
The event was held in Fresno to capitalize on the multitude of Filipino fight fans in the Bay Area and Southern California. Local area promoters of the fight held grassroots promotions to drum up publicity for the fight held on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
Pacquiao, who returns to the ring in July in Malaysia, urged Filipino fight fans on behalf of Ancajas to take part in a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance. The last fight between two Filipinos took place in 1925, when Pancho Villa defended the world flyweight title against Clever Sencio in Manila. Unlike Pacquiao’s brawling style, Ancajas is one of the best technical boxers in the sport. The one issue with Ancajas is he wins rounds and does not necessarily look for the spectacular knockout. As boxing writer Ryan Songalia wrote when observing the crowd not appreciating Ancajas domination over Sultan, “It wouldn’t be very crowd-friendly to watch Pablo Picasso paint portraits, either.”
Still, Ancajas’ cumulation of wins should garner more notoriety. Also, a lasting presence fighting in the United States should help him with his popularity. It was Ancajas’ second fight in the United States, and a first for Sultan.
The fight between two upstarts holds its own importance for many Filipinos. Both came up with hopes of being a world champion and earning the money that comes with being at the top. Pacquiao has dominated the landscape of Filipino boxing for almost two decades. He is an icon in the Philippines when it comes to boxing and there has not been another Filipino boxer close to the status of Pacquiao. The fight between the two young boxers is a sign that there may be another great Filipino boxer on their way.
What no woman has ever done
No woman has landed a 1260 in a halfpipe contest, but Chloe Kim looks ready to next season.
Kim, who dominated the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, landed a frontside 1260 during practice in May. She posted a video on her Instagram.
“After multiple penguin slides and ice burns all over my body it was worth it!!” the caption read.
Kim is already the only woman to land back-to-back 1080s in a contest, which she first did in 2016 and then again at the Winter Olympics this past February in Pyeongchang. At 18, Kim’s ascension in the snowboarding world is taking off. It looks like Kim may be balancing school with snowboarding, as she was recently accepted to Princeton University, according to TeenVogue. She also has other Ivy Schools on her radar, so the New Jersey school may not be her final landing spot.
FIFA World Cup begins with only 2 Asian nations participating
The FIFA World Cup begins in June in Russia. The United States did not qualify for the tournament, which takes place every four years. Without the United States, coverage of the tournament may take a back seat. Only two Asian countries have qualified for the World Cup: Japan and South Korea. Both are longshots to make it out of the initial round robin elimination rounds.
Japan hopes to improve on a frustrating appearance in 2014 in Brazil, when it failed to advance past the initial round of the tournament. The 2014 disappointment came as they hoped to improve on a trip to the round of 16 in 2010 in South Africa.
The team is coached by Akira Nishino, a veteran of playing in four World Cup qualifiers for Japan. He coached Japan’s soccer team in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The team is led by Maya Yoshida. He was the captain of Japan’s team in the 2012 Olympic games and currently plays for the Southampton Football Club in the Premier League, the top tier of English football.
South Korea has much more of an extensive history in World Cup play, having made one semifinal appearance with a fourth place showing in 2002. The team is coached by Shin Tae-Yong, who took over in July 2016 after the dismissal of its former coach Uli Stielike. Despite the transition, Shin was able to guide the team to its 10th World Cup. The team is led by Ki Sung-Yueng, who will be playing in his third FIFA World Cup. The midfielder plays with Swansea City in the English Premier League.
The FIFA World Cup begins on June 14 and ends a month later with all games playing in different sites in Russia. The odds-on favorites to win are Germany and Brazil.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.