It is McWilliams Arroyo’s turn to provide drama in his dragged-out rivalry with Julio Cesar Martinez.

An abrupt retirement announcement from the interim WBC flyweight titlist created confusion surrounding his already scheduled December 3 rematch with Martinez. The two are set to collide in a title consolidation bout a DAZN show from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, though appeared to collapse upon the 36-year-old from Fajardo, Puerto Rico declaring that he has decided to call it a career.

“Hello, greetings to everyone, by this means I want to announce that I am retiring from boxing after 24 years as a boxer,” Arroyo announced Saturday afternoon in a post on his official Facebook page. “I understand that it is time to focus on other goals that I have as a person and well and healthy.”

The announcement came as a shock to the staff at Miguel Cotto Promotions, who as recently as Friday were preparing for the fight and the trip to Glendale. It seems that whatever conversation took place between parties prompted an immediate clarification.  

“The retirement is after [the rematch],” Arroyo stated hours later in an updated message. “See you still on December 3, Martinez.”

The rematch—assuming it still moves forward—will serve as the chief support for the anticipated rubber match between lineal junior bantamweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (43-3, 28KOs) and former four-division champ Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs). Arroyo will attempt to win a major title on his fourth try, while Mexico City’s Martinez (18-2, 14KOs; 2NC) seeks to make the fifth defense of the WBC flyweight belt he has held since December 2019.

Martinez and Arroyo met last November 19 after two prior postponements, with both fighters hitting the deck in a wild two rounds of action. The fight ended with a whimper, as Arroyo was unable to continue due to a cut over his eye caused by a clash of heads. It almost seemed to be a fitting conclusion given the series’ history.

Martinez withdrew from a planned August 2020 meeting due to illness and again from a rescheduled February 2021 meeting on a Canelo Alvarez undercard due to a hand injury. Arroyo remained on the latter card, facing and knocking out Abraham Rodriguez in the fifth round of their interim WBC flyweight title fight. The win assured Arroyo either a shot at Martinez or an upgrade to full titlist had the defending champ failed to proceed with the fight.

They finally met last November, only for it to end seconds into round three due to a clash of heads from the previous round. Efforts to stage the rematch have so far proven just as frustrating. The two were due to meet as part of a June 25 DAZN in San Antonio featuring four title fights. Martinez—who lost to Gonzalez in a non-title fight on March 5 in San Diego—withdrew due to an undisclosed illness. The development came too far into fight week for Matchroom Boxing to secure a replacement opponent in time to leave Arroyo on the show.

For now, it appears that plans remain in place for their rematch to proceed in December. At this present time, it also appears to serve as the final call for Arroyo, who—along with twin brother and former junior bantamweight titlist McJoe Arroyo—represented Puerto Rico in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and hopes to end his career with his first major title win. He came up short in a disputed points loss to Amnat Ruenroeng in their September 2014 IBF flyweight title fight along with a competitive but clear defeat to Gonzalez for the lineal/WBC flyweight championship in April 2016.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox