The show goes on for McWilliams Arroyo.
Less than 24 hours after watching a title fight opportunity disappear, Puerto Rico’s Arroyo will not only remain on this weekend’s show in Miami but maintain his place in line for the WBC flyweight crown. The former two-time title challenger will now face Tijuana’s Abraham ‘Choko’ Rodriguez in an interim WBC flyweight title fight, sources tell BoxingScene.com.
Rodriguez (27-2, 13KOs) accepted the opportunity on short notice, replacing countryman and defending WBC titlist Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1, 13KOs; 1NC) who was forced to withdraw from the show due to a previously concealed injury to his right hand. The matchup was pursued immediately after Thursday’s final pre-fight press conference and finalized overnight, though pending Rodriguez making the 112-pound flyweight limit.
BoxingScene.com has been informed that Rodriguez is still en route to Miami and will not arrive until after Friday's official pre-fight weigh-in, at which point he will be required to hit the scale in order to be eligible to fight for the interim title. The bout will air live on DAZN from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. The rest of the show remains intact, with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (54-1-2, 36KO) defending his WBA/WBC super middleweight titles in the main event.
ESPN Deportes’ Salvador ‘Chava’ Rodriguez was the first to report the possibility of Rodriguez accepting the fight.
The development allows Arroyo to salvage a full training camp dedicated to his second attempt at facing Martinez. The two were due to collide last August 15 on DAZN, only for Martinez to withdraw roughly four weeks out due to a gastrointestinal issue. Arroyo (20-4, 15KOs) was removed from the card altogether, leaving the 35-year old flyweight contender without a fight since a 5th round stoppage of Juan Gabriel Medina in Dec. 2019.
Arroyo— who alongside twin brother McJoe served on the 2008 Puerto Rico Olympic boxing team which competed in Beijing—came up short in separate flyweight title bids versus Amnat Ruenroeng in Sept. 2014 and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez in April 2016, both of whom were unbeaten champs at the time.
Following the loss to Gonzalez came Arroyo’s most notable win to date, a 10-round decision over former 115-pound champ Carlos Cuadras in Feb. 2018. Arroyo has won four of his last five from that point onward, the lone loss over that stretch coming in a 10-round decision to Kazuto Ioka who has since won a title in his fourth weight division less than a year after their Sept. 2018 clash.
Rodriguez has won his last four starts following a 2nd round knockout loss to then-reigning WBO junior flyweight titlist Angel Acosta in their Oct. 2018 title fight. The bout marked the lone career stateside appearance for the 26-year old who has otherwise fought exclusively in Mexico and with nearly all of his bouts taking place in his Tijuana hometown.
In his most recent start, Rodriguez scored an eight-round decision over German Valenzuela just prior to the start of the pandemic last March. The win came just above the strawweight limit, with Rodriguez moving up to flyweight where he last fought in 2017.
The winner of the bout will be mandated to next face Martinez, who is now a medical scratch for the third time in the past six starts included twice in scheduled bouts with Arroyo. The reigning titlist was also forced to withdraw from a Dec. 19th clash with former titlist Francisco ‘Chihuas’ Rodriguez—to have also served in chief support to a Canelo Alvarez-headlined show—due to an undisclosed illness.
In the event Martinez is not able to comply with the terms of the WBC ruling, the winner of Saturday’s interim title fight will be elevated to WBC “World” flyweight champion.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox