By Jake Donovan
You have to give credit to McWilliams Arroyo. In an era where there are easier ways to obtain an alphabet title, the flyweight contender from Puerto Rico has opted to chase after not only the very best in the division but whom many regard as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world in Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.
The two will collide this Saturday in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
For Gonzalez (44-0, 38KOs), it will mark the third straight appearance on American cable giant HBO, quickly becoming a network favorite. With a win, there exists the strong possibility of the diminutive knockout artist from Nicaragua becoming a headlining act.
With that, not much is expected from Arroyo (16-2, 8KOs), who enters as a considerable underdog. Not only does he face the very best in the world, but will have not fought for 54 weeks by the time he makes his way to the ring this Saturday.
It’s a tall order all around for the longtime contender, but he insists the risks were taken well into consideration prior to accepting the dangerous assignment.
“I've done it before,” notes Arroyo, whose twin brother McJoe is a reigning unbeaten super flyweight titlist.
In fact, the current inactive stretch is only the second longest of his career. The 30-year old boxer was out of the ring for 16 months prior to his title eliminator with previously unbeaten Froilan Saludar in June ’14, crushing the visiting Filipino in two rounds to march boldly into his first career title fight.
It remains the best win in the career of the 2008 Puerto Rico Olympic boxer, who came up just short in a bid versus unbeaten titlist Amnat Ruenroeng in Sept. ’14. Arroyo faced an uphill battle in fighting on the road in Thailand, but held his own and even dropped the defending champ midway through the bout before fading late and coming up narrowly short of winning the title.
Just one fight has followed, a three-round wipeout of Victor Ruiz last April. He was due to return to the ring on two separate occasions last summer, but both opportunities fell through. Other bouts were offered, only to lead to more time spent in the gym without anything to show for it on his official ledger.
“I prepare myself for three fights but they fell through. Things happen in boxing,” Arroyo states matter-of-factly.
With essentially a year’s worth of gym time, the hungry challenger believes the time has finally arrived to show that he’s been ready for any opportunity that comes his way.
“I've been training very hard. I give him all the credit, he deserves to be the champ,” Arroyo says of the man regarded by many as the very best active boxer in the world. “But I am working very hard to get that title and come April 23 will leave that ring as a world champion.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox