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Jerwin Ancajas inks contract with Top Rank, to face Israel Gonzalez

Junior bantamweight world titleholder Jerwin Ancajas has signed a promotional contract with Top Rank and will have his first bout of the agreement on Feb. 3, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told ESPN on Thursday.

Ancajas, who will be making the fourth defense of his 115-pound belt, will face Israel Gonzalez in the co-feature of super middleweight world titleholder Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez defending against Habib "Wild Hurricane" Ahmed on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (10:30 p.m. ET) at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.

"He's a very, very exciting fighter. He's all action," Arum said. "He could really become an attraction. Am I definite about that? No, but there's potential for him to become a major attraction, at least at the level or even higher of a Nonito Donaire -- that type of attraction."

Arum said the deal with Ancajas guarantees him at least three fights in 2018, provided he continues to win, with an option for three more fights in 2019.

"So it's a potential six-fight deal. His fights will either be co-features on our ESPN cards or on big pay-per-view cards as one of the televised fights," said Arum, who signed Ancajas after he became the first fighter promoted by Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions to win a world title.

Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, said MP Promotions will retain a small percentage of Ancajas' promotional contract. Ancajas (28-1-1, 19 KOs), a 25-year-old southpaw from the Philippines, fought on ESPN on July 2 when he knocked out mandatory challenger Teiru Kinoshita in the seventh round of a one-sided fight on the Pacquiao-Jeff Horn undercard in Brisbane, Australia.

On Nov. 18, Ancajas retained his belt for the third time when he overwhelmed Jamie Conlan, the older brother of blue-chip Top Rank featherweight prospect Michael Conlan. Ancajas knocked down Conlan four times en route to a sixth-round knockout in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Gonzalez (21-1, 8 KOs), of Mexico, who will be taking a big step up in the level of his opposition, has won eight fights in a row.

In October 2016, he won a 10-round decision against Ramon Garcia Hirales, a former junior flyweight world titlist, but it was the faded Hirales' fifth loss in a row.

In the previously announced main event, Ramirez (36-0, 24 KOs), a southpaw from Mexico, will make his third defense when he faces Ahmed (25-0-1, 17 KOs), of Ghana, who will be fighting outside of his home country of Ghana for the first time against by far his most notable opponent.

Another bout on the card will involve hot lightweight prospect and 2016 Honduran Olympian Teofimo Lopez (7-0, 6 KOs), 20, of Las Vegas.

Author: Dan Rafael, ESPN
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