By Jake Donovan
Barring any unforeseen circumstances in the next 24 hours or so, McJoe Arroyo and Jerwin Ancajas will finally meet in the ring.
Both boxers made weight for Saturday's super flyweight title fight in the Taguig City section of Manila, Philippines. Arroyo came in at 114-pounds - matching his career-lightest weight - as the unbeaten 30-year old titlist from Puerto Rico travels to hostile territory for his first defense. Ancajas checked in right at the 115-pound divisional limit.
Arroyo (17-0, 8KOs) beat another Filipino contender to claim the title, scoring a technical decision win over Arthur Villanueva in their vacant title fight last July. The upcoming showdown with Ancajas will mark his first title defense, which he was hoping to bring home to Puerto Rico.
Such plans were once in place for a potential February 20 date, which would have served as part of a planned tripleheader to have aired on Showtime. However, the major components of such a show – namely a hoped-for third showdown between Roman Martinez and Orlando Salido – fell through, thus putting this mandatory title fight back at square one.
The fight eventually went to purse bid, won by Sampson Lewkowicz was the lone bidder – serving on behalf of Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions - at a recent purse bid hearing, claiming the rights to the fight with a winning submission of $25,000 and plans to host the event on April 16 in Bacoor City, Philippines.
Arroyo's team was displeased with the turn of events - specifically the lack of support from adviser Al Haymon, who declined to dispatch a promoter from his Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) rotation to the purse bid. With that came the decision to bite down and settle for the hand which he was dealt. However, Arroyo suffered an untimely injury less than two weeks prior to fight night - a situation that was investigated and verified by the International Boxing Federation in order to grant a medical exemption.
The agreement was that Arroyo would keep his title on the condition that he face Ancajas - his mandatory contender - once medically cleared to return to the ring.
What has since changed - along with the date - is the location and the promoter. Ancajas (24-1-1, 16KOs) will enter his first career title fight on home soil and with his local promoter - Joven Sports Promotion - as the event lead.
All else remains the same, including their last fights since the bout was initially suggested. Arroyo hasn't fought since his title winning effort over Villanueva last July.
Ancajas has only been slightly more active, scoring a 1st round knockout of overmatched countryman Paul Apolinario last November to extend his win streak to 11 straight, all coming within the distance. However, none have come against the level of talent he faces on Saturday, as Arroyo endured a much tougher road to the title, along with his rich amateur background that included a tour with twin brother and current flyweight contender McWilliams Arroyo on the 2008 Puerto Rico Olympic boxing team.