By Jake Donovan
An injury (suffered at a timely point in training camp has suddenly raised questions as to whether McJoe Arroyo will still proceed as planned with the first defense of his super flyweight title. The unbeaten boxer was forced to postpone a planned media workout on Wednesday - just nine days before his April 16 fight in Bacoor City, Philippines - due to what was loosely described as a minor lesion in his left hand.
"McJoe contacted me to inform me of an ailment that has suffered in his left hand," Peter Riveram vice president of Puerto Rico Best Boxing Promotions (PRBBP) revealed to Puerto Rico media members planning to attend the session. "We decided to suspend the training (we) had today with the media so that he can get evaluated by an Orthopedic specialist."
Arroyo (17-0, 8KOs) is due to make the first defense of the 115 lb. belt he acquired in a technical decision win over Arthur Villanueva last July in El Paso, Texas. The bout was his first under the advisory banner of Al Haymon, taking place on the Showtime portion of a full day/evening event that was split between the American cable giant and its free-to-air affiliate CBS, which hosted live boxing action earlier that day.
The hope on Arroyo's side was that Haymon would financially assist in securing a favorable location for his upcoming clash with Ancajas (24-1-1, 16KOs). Any discussed plans came and went without a public whisper, as Samson Lewkowicz was the lone bidder at the February 12 purse bid hearing. Lewkowicz - on behalf of Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions - won the rights to the title fight with a paltry sum of $25,000.
Arroyo - who along with twin brother McWilliams represented Puerto Rico in the 2008 Beijing Olympics - is entitled to the favorable end of an 85/15 split. That puts his take at $21,250 to travel around the world and defend his belt on the road. PRBBP brass created confusion upon the announcement of the fight location in Bacoor City, continually insisting that the hosting city was still in discussion and that they planned to discuss with Haymon plans to provide a neutral setting for the event. That was never on the table, however, as Pacquiao's company had full control over the staging of the contest.
The show will still go on as planned, but any postponement or cancellation will be met with raised eyebrows given recent events.
Arroyo's promotional stablemate and fellow islander Roman 'Rocky' Martinez withdrew roughly one week prior to his scheduled March 12 super featherweight title defense versus Mexico's Miguel Berchelt. Martinez was in weeks long negotiations for a third fight with Orlando Salido - from whom he won the title last April - but was forced to settle upon Berchelt as talks failed to progress in a timely fashion. PRBBP protested the appointment of Berchelt as the mandatory contender, going so far as to refuse to participate in the purse bid, which was won by the challenger's promoter, Zanfer Promotions.
Martinez wound up suffering an untimely injury just days before he was due to travel to Merida, Mexico. As a result, Berchelt fought for and won the vacant title, on the condition that he would face a healthy and ready-to-return Martinez in his first title defense. That fight is highly unlikely to materialize, however, as Martinez is the leading candidate to face Vasyl Lomachenko this June in New York City.
As for Arroyo, there hasn't been any suggestions of a backup plan or any talks of his potentially withdrawing from his April 16 road trip to Philippines. For now, the hope is that a quick visit to the doctor's office will produce good news and only result in one missed day of training.
"We are hoping (the injury) is not something serious and that he can resume training later this week," said Rivera.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox