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Jerwin Ancajas, Khalid Yafai focused on title defenses, not each other

Junior bantamweight world titlist Jerwin Ancajas' defense against Jonas Sultan will be the first all-Filipino world title bout contested since 1925. Photo provided by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Junior bantamweight world titleholders Jerwin Ancajas and Kal Yafai are being featured in defenses on the same card on Saturday night as a prelude to a possible unification fight later in the year -- but don't tell them about that. They are focused on the business at hand, not each other.

Ancajas will defend his 115-pound belt against fellow Filipino Jonas Sultan, the mandatory challenger, in the first all-Filipino world title fight in 93 years in the main event, and Yafai will take on David Carmona at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

The bouts will take place on the first Top Rank-promoted card to stream live exclusively on ESPN+. The entire card will stream live beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET, with coverage of the title fights slated to start at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Ancajas (29-1-1, 20 KOs), a 26-year-old southpaw, who will be making his fifth title defense when he meets Sultan (14-3, 9 KOs), also 26, is all about the fight in front of him not the prospect of a unification fight.

"My goal is to entertain the crowd. For my fans, the Filipino community here, I'm looking forward to this fight," Ancajas said during Wednesday's media workout. "I'm proud that my dream has come true. All of my sacrifices paid off. Sultan is hungry for a world title fight, to prove he is the best. I am confident, but not overconfident, because he's also Filipino. We are expecting a good fight for the fans.

"There are many great fighters in the Philippines, and I am happy that Jonas and myself can share this big stage. We are making history, and I am glad that we can fight to see who is the best."

The last time two fighters from the Philippines squared off for a world title was in 1925 when then-flyweight world champion Pancho Villa, a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, retained his title by unanimous 15-round decision against countryman Clever Sencio on May 2, 1925, in Manila.

"For me, I'm really proud for this fight because I am the one fighting for a championship that is history-making in the Philippines," said Jonas, who has won five fights in a row, including a unanimous decision over former world titleholder John Riel Casimero in a September title elimination bout to earn the shot at Ancajas. "I am very grateful that I am the one. This is my dream in life, to fight for the world championship. This is very good for me because this is an important opportunity. Jerwin is a good fighter. He has speed and power. I trained hard. I have a really good plan for this fight."

Yafai (23-0, 14 KOs), 28, of England, will be making his third defense and his United States debut against Carmona (21-5-5, 9 KOs), 27, of Mexico, who will be challenging for a junior bantamweight title for the third time. He lost a decision to Naoya Inoue in Japan in 2016 and was stopped in the seventh round by Omar Narvaez in the seventh round in Argentina in 2013.

Yafai is hungry for bigger opportunities and coming to the U.S. fit the bill, he said.

"It was the right time in my career," Yafai said of coming to America. "I had the opportunity to not only to fight in the U.S. but to fight on a Top Rank card. Top Rank is a very respected promoter, and my promoter, Eddie Hearn, thought it was the best opportunity for me. So, that's what we did."

But he said he was not at all concerned about the Ancajas-Sultan bout and how it might impact his future plans.

"At this moment, I don't really care about it because I have a job to do myself," Yafai said. "I'm not looking past this fight. After my fight, I'll obviously watch the [Ancajas-Sultan] fight if I'm not too tired. I always concentrate on what I have in front of me.

"There are plenty of great fighters at 115 pounds. Jonas Sultan is a great fighter, and he can't be written off on Saturday night. Jerwin is a great fighter also, who I expect to win on Saturday."

If that happens it will be then, and only then, that Ancajas and Yafai talk about the prospect of unifying their titles.