Omicron threat causes postponement of Ancajas-Ioka title fight in Japan
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The much-awaited New Year’s Eve world title unification showdown between Jerwin Ancajas and Kazuto Ioka in Japan was the latest casualty of the emerging Omicron variant of COVID-19 with the fight being postponed.
No less than Ancajas’s manager and MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons confirmed to the media in the United States on Friday that the fight was officially postponed due to the strict travel restrictions imposed in Japan where the fight was going to happen.
The fight set on December 31 in Tokyo pits Ancajas’s International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight title and Ioka’s World Boxing Organization (WBO) super flyweight straps in what was supposed to be one of the biggest fights of the year.
The first casualty of Japan’s strict travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant was the postponement of the bout between WBA middleweight champion Ryota Murata and Gennady Golovkin on December 29 in Saitama, Japan.
Japan recently closed its borders amidst the rising threat of the new COVID-19 variant.
In his statement, Gibbons said that he and Team Ancajas were already looking forward to having the historic fight versus Ioka, but they fully understood the bigger concerns than boxing in Japan and the world.
Despite being postponed, Gibbons and Ancajas remained optimistic that the unification bout would happen the soonest.
Ancajas has formally announced the unification bout on November 25 by officially signing the fight contract in the United States where is currently training, but 10 days later it has been postponed.
The 29-year-old “Pretty Boy” Ancajas will defend his world title for the 10th time.
The pride of Panabo City, Davao del Norte, Philippines holds a record of 33 wins, 1 defeat, 2 draws with 22 knockouts while the 32-year old Ioka (27-2, 15 KOs) of Japan has defended his WBO 115-pound title three times.
Last week, Japan announced that it was prohibiting inbound travelers from all over the world for a month while visa holders and Japanese citizens would be allowed to return to the country given that they yield a negative test of COVID-19 and had served the mandatory quarantine.
Two other Filipino world champions in WBC world bantamweight king Nonito Donaire and WBO world bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero have simultaneous title defenses on December 11.
Donaire will fight fellow Filipino and interim champion Reymart Gaballo in Carson City, California while Casimero fights British contender Paul Butler in Dubai, UAE. Included in Casimero’s fight card is Donnie Nietes and Jayson Mama.
There is no new announcement or updates yet from both Donaire and Casimero’s promoters about their scheduled bouts amidst the threat of postponement due to the new COVID-19 variant.
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