Q&A: 115-pound title challenger McJoe Arroyo
Puerto Rico’s McJoe Arroyo will face fellow unbeaten Arthur Villanueva of the Philippines for the vacant IBF junior bantamweight title on Saturday as part of “Showtime Championship Boxing.”
Arroyo (16-0, 8 knockouts) enjoyed a distinguished amateur career; he won a bronze medal at the world championships in 2007 and made the Olympic team in 2008.
The 29-year-old southpaw turned pro in 2010, but after a bright start the pace of his career slowed and he fought less often – only seven times since 2011, at one point going more than a year without a fight. However, to his credit, Arroyo was able to keep moving towards his dream of fighting for a world title.
He proved he belonged on the world stage by winning two IBF eliminators in 2014. Last summer he traveled to Mexico and scored an impressive 11th-round TKO over former flyweight beltholder Hernan “Tyson” Marquez, and followed that with a unanimous decision over Mark Anthony Geraldo in the fall.
He is currently rated No. 9 by THE RING at 115 pounds while his opponent, Villanueva, sits at No. 6.
The Arroyo-Villanueva card, which will happen in El Paso, Texas, will be headlined by the return of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Marcos Reyes. Other fights from El Paso, including IBF junior featherweight titlist Carl Frampton vs. Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. and heavyweight Chris Arreola vs. Fred Kassi, will be aired in a preceding CBS broadcast.
Here’s what Arroyo had to say (translation provided by Aleudiro Rosario of PR Best Boxing Promotions):
RingTV.com – What are your thoughts on facing Villanueva?
McJoe Arroyo – I’m happy that I’m going to get a title shot, I’m fighting a competitive fighter and I’m preparing myself for a competitive fight.
RTV – When you look at Villanueva, what do you see as his strengths and also areas of weakness?
MA – I see he is crafty fighter, weaknesses we will see in the fight. Every fight and fighter is different.
RTV – Originally you were supposed to face South African Zolani Tete, however, he vacated. What is your understanding of what happened?
MA – I figure it was all about the money. He probably was being paid well but then he wanted a lot of money, and when it went to a (purse) bid offer it didn’t go his way. He wanted to be paid well to fight me.
RTV – How important do you feel it is that the fight happens in America and not you having to travel to Asia to face him in The Philippines?
MA – I’m a fighter, I will fight anywhere, but I believe it’s a neutral place and good exposure to fight in America.
RTV – You won two IBF eliminators. Tell us about winning both of those fights and also how it helped prepare you for this opportunity?
MA – After the first title eliminator we figured we were going to have a shot but we were unable. The second eliminator assured the shot at a title. I believe they have helped me out in the experience of entering the later rounds.
RTV – Your twin brother McWilliams fought for the IBF flyweight title in September. Although he dropped the champion, Amnat Ruenroeng, he ultimately lost a decision. Have you been able to learn from his experience?
MA – Everybody learns from that experience – promoters, boxers managers and trainers.
RTV – How close are you and McWilliams?
MA – We were are very tight, it’s difficult to explain. I believe you have to be in our shoes to understand. Not every pair of twins share the same relationship we share – we are there for each other at all times for everything.
RTV – What would it mean to you if you were able to win the world title?
MA – It would mean everything, my dream come true as a pro boxer. That’s my dream, to become world champion.
RTV – The junior bantamweight division is getting some coverage because Naoya Inoue stunningly stopped Omar Narvaez last December. There are also some good fighters such as Carlos Cuadras, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Tete, etc. What are your thoughts on those fighters and the division?
MA – It’s a very competitive weight class right now, but that helps us all to be seen more and for people to show more interest in these weight classes.
RTV – Tell us about your life away from boxing?
MA – I like to play basketball, go to the theater. My big hobby is cars – after boxing that’s my other passion. I love to enjoy my family – you can say I’m a family man.
RTV – In closing, do you have a message for Villanueva?
MA – I just want him to be well prepared because I will be for this important fight.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright