By Miguel Rivera
Puerto Rican Olympian Felix 'El Diamante' Verdejo is focused on securing his mandatory world title shot against WBO lightweight king Terry Flanagan.
This past Saturday night, Flanagan retained his 135-pound WBO crown by beating top rated contender Petr Petrov on a unanimous decision. The handlers behind the undefeated Puerto Rican fighter are confident that the WBO leaders will give way to the mandatory fight against Flanagan (33-0, 13 KO's). The tentative date is June 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"The possibility is latent. I can not confirm that it will take place in June, but Felix is ??the mandatory challenger for Flanagan. The people of the WBO will take care of that," said Ricky Marquez, coach and manager of Verdejo (23-0, 15 KO's), to Carlos Gonzalez.
Flanagan stated after his post-fight interview, after beating Petr Petrov, that fighting Verdejo was not among his goals. He wants to face Jorge Linares or Vasyl Lomachenko.
"We do not know what Flanagan's plans are. The fight with Felix is the ??mandatory unless (Flanagan) leaves his title vacant. Felix is ??training hard to fight anyone. It does not disappoint us that someone does not want to fight with him (Verdejo), it's nothing new. The WBO gave Felix the opportunity to remain in the top spot after the motorcycle accident (from last year) and that fight against Flanagan is latent," said Marquez.
In his last appearance, Verdejo won a unanimous decision over Nicaraguan Oliver Flores. Verdejo had his share of difficulties in the final rounds of the fight.
Since then, Márquez recruited the assistance of a sports psychologist for Verdejo.
In addition, promoter Bob Arum expressed his desire that Verdejo train outside of Puerto Rico. Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California are the two alternatives training locations to consider.
Márquez confirmed that he observed the brawl between Flanagan and Petrov on television and said he noticed flaws in the champion, which Verdejo could capitalize on.
"Flanagan showed a good physical condition. He has his resources and works well from the distance. But he was also sometimes vulnerable to Petrov's straight punches and we know he is a tough fighter," said Marquez.