By Miguel Rivera
According to Ricky Marquez, manager and trainer of Puerto Rican lightweight prospect Felix "Diamante" Verdejo (23-0, 15 KOs), his boxer will return on March 17, 2018 at The Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The date is slated for an ESPN televised headliner featuring a bout between Jose Ramirez and Amir Imam for the vacant WBC junior welterweight championship.
Verdejo has been inactive since February, when he won a much tougher than expected ten round decision over Oliver Flores.
Verdejo has had a number of mishaps over the last two years.
He's had injuries, a motorcycle accident in 2016 while joyriding with friends, and lackluster performances.
Between injuries and inactivity, Verdejo was dropped as the mandatory challenger to the WBO lightweight title - which at the time was held by Terry "Turbo" Flanagan.
Marquez felt that Verdejo, 24 years old, would be at a much higher position by this point and likely a world champion.
"I really did not imagine that (five years later) his career would be where it is now," Marquez told Joel Rivera. "There are situations that arise, injuries at the time. But Thank God he has had the lessons that have given to him the experiences and he's working as he should be: quiet and doing what he has to do. 2018 will be much better.
After three fights per year in 2015 and 2016, some of which went the distance against small caliber opponents, Verdejo's fight in February was his only fight of 2017.
Verdejo's most recent commitment was scheduled for September 22 against Mexican Antonio Lozada Jr. in Tucson, Arizona, but was it postponed after the Puerto Rican boxer suffered a hand injury while training in Big Bear, California.
"It's been bad decisions and bad luck. The issue of the motorbike, for example, was a bad decision by him. But I understand that they are lessons that young people receive. Sometimes you talk to your children about those things and they do not listen to you. They have to pass things on to them so that they can live and understand the message you wanted to convey to them. I think Felix learned from it and that is why he is working as he is now," said Marquez, who states that the current Verdejo is much more mature and more focused and that the potential is still intact.
"2018 is going to be the year of Felix Verdejo. I'm sure of that and time will prove me right. We just keep doing the job quietly and we're going to let the performances speak for him."