By Jake Donovan
Felix Verdejo picked up his fifth win of 2014, scoring an eight-round shutout over Oscar Bravo in their lightweight bout Saturday evening in Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Scores were 80-72 across the board for Verdejo, who gets in some much needed rounds.
There has been no shortage of ring activity for the 21-year old rising prospect, although most have resulted in quick hits. Four fights on the year have totalled barely 10 minutes worth of ring time for Verdejo, including back-to-back 1st round knockouts.
Even with the possibility of fighting in another seven weeks in Orlando, the intent for Saturday's fight was for the rising Puerto Rican star to get in some rounds. In that regard, it was mission accomplished as Bravo (now 21-6, 9KOs) was reliable in his role as a durable opponent.
Verdejo was in complete control but the question was whether he could show poise on a night when a knockout simply wasn't on the menu. The answer was a resounding yes, as the island favorite never wasted punches or expended energy in getting the job done.
With the win, Verdejo advances to 14-0 (10KOs). The win was his first distance fight since being extended six rounds in a shutout win over Thailand's Petchsamuthr Duanaaymukdahan last November in Macau. Saturday's bout marked his first scheduled eight-round affair, and thus the deepest he's ever gone in a pro fight.
Verdejo's last loss came in the 2012 London Olympics, dropping a decison to eventual two-time Gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko in the quarterfinal round.
Jose Lopez came into the ring dressed in his "Wonder Boy" superhero costume for his televised co-feature versus Roberto Castañeda. He could have used some super powers, but was able to tap into his will and perseverence to escape with a majority decision in their super bantamweight fight that will be remembered come year end awards time.
Scores were 73-73 even, and 74-72 (twice) for Lopez in a bout that featured seven official knockdowns and a point deduction.
The fight began with Lopez immediately taking the fight to Castañeda, scoring a knockdown in the opening seconds. Where the Puerto Rican went wrong was believing it was the beginning of the end. Castañeda dusted himself off and surprisingly dominated the rest of the round, flooring Lopez four times, including a sequence at rounds end in which the local favorite jumped off the canvas and raced to his stool to avoid a knockdown call.
Referee Roberto Ramirez Sr was on top of it, issuing a rare "sitting" eight-count before officially ending what is a surefire candidate for Round of the Year.
Lopez was still loopy at the start of round two, but managed to find his composure and perform the role he was expected to play. Castañeda was brimming with confidence, but suddenly back on the canvas as Lopez landed flush on the chin.
Castenada was in trouble again in round three, back on the canvas but keeping the fight within reach after Lopez was docked a point for rabbit punching.
The rest of the fight was free of knockdowns and point deductions, and just filled with good old fashioned punching. The two fought on relatively even terms, but Lopez edging it out just enough to keep his unbeaten intact. The 20-year old advances to 15-0 (11KOs). Castañeda heads back to Mexico with his sixth loss in seven fights as he falls to 21-7-1 (15KOs)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
Tags: Miguel Cotto , Felix Verdejo , Jose Lopez