Jerwin Ancajas (File photo)

MANILA – Jerwin Ancajas will be moving up a weight level as he makes his much anticipated return to the boxing ring next year.

The former long-reigning junior featherweight champion said on Tuesday that he will now join the stacked 118-pound division as he begins his road to redemption.

"Ang plano talaga, aakyat na ako sa bantamweight (The real plan is for me to move up to bantamweight)," Ancajas said during a special face-to-face edition of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

His longtime coach, Joven Jimenez, added that while moving further up the weight level is an option down the road, they will take it slow in terms of doing so.

"Kaya 118 po ang pinili namin para kay Jerwin dahil kung aakyat siya agad sa 120, iba yung lakas ng magiging kalaban niya at saka mas maraming opportunities dito sa 118 (We chose 118 for Jerwin because if he quickly jumps to 120, the strength of his supposed opponents would be totally different and also there are a lot of opportunities here in 118)," Jimenez said.

Currently headlining the bantamweight division is reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Council, and World Boxing Association (WBA) super champion Naoya Inoue.

The division also has current WBA regular champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, World Boxing Organization champ Paul Butler, and title contender Nordine Oubaali.

Ancajas, however, could find himself facing fellow Filipinos Nonito Donaire, Jonas Sultan, and even Johnriel Casimero, although Casimero is now considering joining the junior featherweight group.

Ancajas will be making his bantamweight sometime in February next year against an opponent to be announced soon.

However, if he prevails in impressive fashion, he could quickly get a chance to vie for a world title again.

"After ng isa o dalawang laban niya, world title na kaagad. Yan yung pangako ni Sir Sean [Gibbons, MP Promotions president] sa amin, so yun ang paghahandaan namin (probably one or two bouts, he could quickly get a world title shot. That is what Sir Sean promised us, so that's what we're preparing for)," Jimenez said.

Ancajas and Jimenez also revealed that the former's comeback fight could happen in the Philippines. (PNA)