By NICK GIONGCO
LOS ANGELES – Jerwin Ancajas’ fulfilled his childhood dream when he finally set foot at the Wild Card Boxing Club on Friday and met the two personages who played major roles in Manny Pacquiao’s rise to suerstardom: Hall of Famers Bob Arum and Freddie Roach.
The reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight king was a picture of joy and happiness when he was given a tour of the training facility on Vine Street, the same spot where Pacquiao honed his skills en route to becoming an eight-division champion.
“I am overjoyed…I feel like I’m walking on air,” Ancajas told the Bulletin less than 24 hours after arriving here from Manila alongside chief trainer Joven Jimenez and sparmate Mark Barriga, a veteran of the 2012 London Olympics.
Arum and Roach warmly welcomed Ancajas, who makes the fourth defense of the IBF 115-lb crown against Israel Gonzalez of Mexico on Feb. 3 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Ancajas was signed to a three-fight contract by Arum’s Top Rank outfit following a sensational 2017.
“He’s a terrific, terrific fighter,” said Arum of Ancajas, who granted interviews to noted scribes Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times, Dan Rafael of ESPN and West Coast boxing connection David Avila and TV crews from the Philippines during his media presentation.
After doing a string of Q&As, Ancajas took part in a mini photo shoot with Mikey Williams of Top Rank and gladly stripped down to display his chiseled body.
An afternoon workout was also scheduled by Sean Gibbons, the fighter’s US agent, as the 26-year-old southpaw prepares to head to Corpus Christi.
And just like Pacquiao, who was a walk-in at Roach’s Wild Card 17 years ago, Ancajas was oozing with excitement as he marveled at the sights and sounds in the gym, looking at the pictures and painting with awe as though he was a kid who was having his first trip at Disneyland.
Many years from now, when Ancajas becomes nostalgic, he will look at that particular day – January 26, 2018 – and a smile will appear.