By Rey Colon
19-year-old lightweight Felix Verdejo, who earlier this morning was announced as the newest member of the Top Rank stable, reportedly received more than $200,000 dollars as a signing bonus, according to sources in Puerto Rico.
Verdejo, who competed in the Olympic Games in London, becomes the Puerto Rican fighter to receive the highest signing bonus to jump to the professional ranks - receiving more than Miguel Cotto and Jose Pedraza - both went pro after representing Puerto Rico in the games.
Both Cotto and Pedraza received over $100,000 for their first signatures. Cotto won three world titles and earned millions of dollars in his career, while Pedraza is a rising prospect and he may fight for his first world title in 2013.
Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank, said the deal with Verdejo is a long-term agreement.
“Felix is a young, exciting athlete who won many gold medals as an amateur. Between his pedigree and our expertise in developing champions, we anticipate the evolution of Puerto Rico’s next future star,” said Top Rank President Todd duBoef.
Top Rank has a very special relationship with the boxing-rich country of Puerto Rico, which was nurtured twelve years ago with the signings of 2000 Puerto Rican Olympic Team members and future world champions Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon.
Verdejo won two fights at the Olympic Games in London before losing to eventual Gold Medal winner, and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine.
"My wish is to become a good professional fighter and make my country proud of my accomplishments. I know that Top Rank is the right company to take me where I want to go,” said Verdejo.
Verdejo is represented by manager Ricky Marquez and will train in Puerto Rico. The date and place of his professional debut will be announced soon.
“I am very pleased to have Felix sign with Top Rank, they have a long and outstanding tradition in developing and promoting fighters and we look forward to a long and successful relationship with them,” said Marquez.
Verdejo will be added to Top Rank’s current stable of Puerto Rican boxers which includes two-time world champion Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez; world champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez; former world champion and current world ranked, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.; contender Luis Cruz and prospects Camilo Perez and Jonathan Gonzalez.
In addition to the Top Rank promoted fighters, Puerto Rico has also produced legendary world champions Felix “Tito” Trinidad, Wilfredo Gomez, and Wilfredo Benitez.