Unbeaten lightweight Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo (17-0, 13 KOs) easily dispatched of Mexico’s Marco Lopez (22-6, 13 KOs) this past Saturday night in his native Puerto Rico. Verdejo took his time to figure Lopez out and then stopped him in round 5. This kind of patience displayed by Verdejo will be needed as he continues to step up in class. The victory earned Verdejo the vacant WBO Latino lightweight title. He will likely see himself enter the world rankings of the WBO within the next month.
Verdejo seems to have the total package to become Puerto Rico’s next big thing. Hall of famer and multi-divisional world champion Felix Trinidad dominated the decade of the 90’s and early 2000s. Miguel Cotto would assume the role from the late 2000’s and is the current WBC middleweight champion of the world. Verdejo in the next few years at the very least will have the opportunity to assume this prestigious position. “El Diamante” (The Diamond) seems destined to be Puerto Rico’s next crown jewel.
Verdejo has shown that he packs a punch but he is far from one-dimensional. This stems from his amateur background. Many fighters have a large number of amateur fights prior to turning pro. What can be telling for many is the amount of international experience a fighter has. Verdejo truly qualifies having fought some of the best talent as an amateur. In 2012 he represented his native Puerto Rico in the Olympics. He would advance to the quarterfinal where he would lose to current world champion and now fellow promotional stablemate Vasyl Lomachenko. It would be Lomachenko who would go on to win the gold medal. Lomachenko in fact won gold medals in two different Olympics.
Verdejo is promoted by Top Rank one of the best promoters in the business of developing talent. A prime example of that is 2014 BWAA fighter of the year Terrance Crawford. He was properly developed and now is closing on becoming a major star in boxing. Crawford recently vacated his WBO 135 world title and became world champion at 140 of the same organization. Top Rank fighter Raymundo Betran will fight for the title Crawford vacated against Takahiro Ao this Friday. Should Verdejo continue to develop as he is there is no reason that he couldn’t be in contention for a world title fight in 2016.