By Jake Donovan
The effects of Typhoon Haiyan are still being felt throughout the Philippines. Thousands were killed while millions more have been displaced from the disaster earlier this month. Extending to the boxing world, it has now affected the status of two fighters, forcing a postponement of bouts that are crucial to their immediate in-ring future.
Puerto Rico Boxing Best Promotions (PRBBP) was forced to implement a seven-week delay in their pay-per-view show, originally scheduled for December 7 in Humacao, Puerto Rico. The inability of Filipino fighters Rocky Fuentes and Mark Acub – both of whom are involved in pivotal bouts on the show - to secure travel visas in time due to delays in their appointments with local government forced the postponement.
Fuentes is scheduled to face McWilliams Arroyo in a flyweight elimination bout in the evening’s main event. Among the supporting bouts is a lightweight contest between the visiting Acub and recent lightweight title challenger Jose ‘Chelo’ Gonzalez.
“The issue is that two fighters of the (evening’s) main bouts won’t be in Puerto Rico in time,” explained PRBBP Vice President Peter Rivera. “[T]he interviews for the (travel) visa(s) are delayed in Philippines. [T]he fight between Arroyo and Fuentes is an eliminator for the #1 (spot) in the IBF rankings, and we can’t change the bout.”
The main event marks the first time Arroyo or Fuentes will fight in a major eliminator. Fuentes (35-6-2, 20KO has surprisingly never entered the title fray at any point in his 10-year career, although is pro debut came just four months after his 17th birthday.
The Filipino ring veteran enters the contest riding a 15-fight win streak dating back to 2007. Aptly nicknamed ‘The Road Warrior,’ Fuentes has frequented Japan, Indonesia and Thailand over the course of his career, as he treks to La Isla Encanta for the biggest fight of his career.
Arroyo (14-1, 12KO) suffered his lone setback early in his career, which took place in New York City, his lone fight outside of his native Puerto Rico.
The loss – a four-round decision to Japan’s Takashi Okada which included the lone knockdown of his career – came as a shock, considering his background. Arroyo was less than two years removed from a run on the 2008 Puerto Rico Olympic boxing squad.
An 11-fight win streak has since followed heading into the title eliminator. Twin brother McJoe Arroyo, also a member of the ’08 Olympic team, appears on the undercard in a super flyweight semifinal eliminator, as he faces unbeaten Dominican prospect Eliezer Aquino (15-0-1, 9KO).
Acub (13-0, 10KO) puts an unbeaten record on the line in his first fight outside of his native Philippines. His opponent knows the feeling, as Gonzalez (22-1, 17KO) traveled to Scotland for a lightweight title shot versus Ricky Burns earlier this year.
Gonzalez was three rounds away from pulling off a major upset, when he suddenly quit on his stool citing a damaged wrist as cause for his inability to continue. The heartbreak, which came this past May, was his last piece of ring action.
The show will air on DirecTV pay-per-view. Ticket refund information for those who paid to attend the December 7 event has not yet been revealed, though details are expected to be forthcoming as PRBBP plans to hold a press conference to formally announce the rescheduling of the same card.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox