By Miguel Rivera
When Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum signed Felix Verdejo to his company, he envisioned a showdown with Vasyl Lomachenko at some point in the future.
Lomachenko, a two-time gold medal winner, had defeated Verdejo in the Olympic games and had plenty of praise for the Puerto Rican boxer.
But Verdejo's career has suffered with a knockout defeat in 2018 and several lackluster performances.
Arum revealed that if Verdejo is able to beat Bryan Vásquez on April 20 at Madison Square Garden, and demonstrates little by little that he could become that rising superstar they once thought was, the veteran promoter would not hesitate in matching him against WBA, WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2020.
Arum recalled that it was precisely Lomachenko who recommended that Top Rank sign up Verdejo (24-1, 16 KOs).
"When we signed Lomachenko, we asked him to recommend fighters that we could sign to Top Rank, and when he spoke about Verdejo, he told us he was the best opponent he had in 397 fights as an amateur, and that coming from Lomachenko was a big recommendation," Arum said to ESPN Deportes.
"At first his performances were sensational, then things happened, he lost his dedication, he had the motorcycle accident, he started to surround himself with a lot of people and he forgot that in order to be a world class fighter it requires a tremendous amount of dedication and an unique work ethic.
"But his last few performances were terrible, he lost with Antonio Lozada and certainly he was not close to being the star we thought, but [his manager] Ricky Márquez rightly brought coach Memo Heredia to the team and Verdejo has been very motivated, so we are going to put him in with a former champion like Bryan.
"Vásquez will be a very good test and he will show us if [Verdejo] can be someone or not. Perhaps, if he proves himself, in 2020 we could make a big fight for him with Lomachenko, it's never too late, that's why we believe that this can be a last chance for him."
Verdejo will face Vasquez on the undercard of an ESPN Pay-Per-View card. In the main event, Terence Crawford will collide with Amir Khan.
"If he's once again the Verdejo that we thought he would be, if he shows dedication, if he concentrates on his things without having people surrounding him, if he defeats Vásquez and proves that he is focused, we could move for a championship fight by the end of 2019 or very early in 2020," Arum said.