By Victor Salazar
While he doesn’t get the same praise as his contemporaries Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto, Ivan Calderon is likely a Hall of Famer and one of the best boxers to come out of Puerto Rico in this era. Calderon had an interesting take on the two young Puerto Rican prospects who fight this weekend, Felix Verdejo and Jose Pedraza.
Calderon says Top Rank is doing well with their young prospect in Verdejo, who returns on Saturday night against undefeated Ivan Najera at The Theater in New York's Madison Square Garden.
“They’re (Top Rank) doing a good job and he’s (Verdejo) doing a good job, he doing what he has to do looking good in fights,” Calderon told BoxingScene.com. “Like Bob [Arum] said, he’s like Tito Trinidad, he’s friendly and outgoing and is always smiling. So he’s got that going for him.”
Pedraza is fighting for a world title on Saturday in Alabama when he faces Andrey Klimov, but it seems all eyes are on Verdejo while Pedraza's outing is being oveshadowed. Calderon feels Pedraza is the better fighter but Verdejo is handled better.
“Jose Pedraza for me is a better fighter, but different promoters here,” explained Calderon. “Top Rank is doing the best, promoting Felix Verdejo but Pedraza doesn’t have that and doesn’t have the good luck. He might win a world title and nobody knows that. He’s got the talent. He’s one of the best fighters we got on the island.”
While there is high expectations for Verdejo, Calderon says we need to slow down on the Trinidad and Cotto comparisons.
“It’s too early to start comparing him to Cotto and Trinidad. Let’s see what he does on the world level first. We can’t say he’ll be like Cotto and Tito without having a world title on his waist.”