Felix Verdejo is armed with a new head trainer and a potential fight date in the near future.
The one-time blue-chip prospect from San Juan, Puerto Rico has established his training headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he will we work with renowned cornerman Ismael Salas. The two will work together moving forward, with their first fight likely to come on an East Coast show in January.
“I am proud to announce that Ismael Salas will be my new coach,” Verdejo (25-1, 16KOs) announced on Tuesday. “I am confident that in Salas I have found the coach that will take my boxing career to the next level.”
Verdejo has been out of the ring since a 10-round decision win over former 130-pound secondary titlist Bryan Vasquez this past April at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The 26-year old lightweight contender served on the supporting undercard of an ESPN Pay-Per-View headlined by Terence Crawford’s 6th round stoppage win over Amir Khan.
The win was Verdejo’s second straight since suffering a 10th round stoppage loss to Mexico’s Antonio Lozado one year prior at MSG’s Hulu Theater. The defeat was an upset on paper but that most boxing experts pegged as inevitable, as the 2012 Puerto Rico Olympian has seen his career progress plagued by injuries and—in recent times—lengthy legal battles. Verdejo remains in a courtroom fight with estranged manager and former head trainer Ricky Marquez, with that case ongoing as he looks to a new beginning on the comeback trail.
It's what led him to enlist the services of Salas, best known for his work with several of Cuba’s top amateur standouts who’ve gone on to enjoy success in the pro ranks, including Guillermo Rigondeaux and Yuriorkis Gamboa. Salas most recently reunited with two-time junior middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara.
The hope on Verdejo’s end is that the union will result in at least a first-time title reign. At the very least, the move provides him with the type of peace of mind that has been missing for a long time.
“For the first time since I started boxing, I feel that I have control of my career,” insists Verdejo.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox