By Miguel Rivera
Felix "El Diamante" Verdejo returned to Puerto Rico this afternoon - but not as he would have liked.
On a cloudy and rainy afternoon, the popular Puerto Rican boxer returned home just over 12 hours after having suffered the first defeat of his professional career, by technical knockout at The Theater of Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Verdejo ( 23-1, 15 KO's ), who was returning from a 13-month layoff since his last fight, was dropped in the tenth and final round of his clash with Mexico's Antonio Lozada Jr., a fighter who came to the match with 32 knockouts in his 38 victories.
"I feel very good thanks to God," said Verdejo to Joel Rivera as he left the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport.
The Olympian said he was never told what happened in the final round, in which the referee Eddie Claudio decided to end the fight.
"There were 30 seconds left. I do not understand why they stopped it so fast. But they are things that happen. We'll learn from that," said the 24-year-old fighter.
"They did not tell me [why they stopped it]. It was the doctor from the commission who stopped the fight and he did not say anything to me. But, they are things that happen. It may have been that I was not throwing much in that round, but I was fine. I was aware, I was waiting for the bell and that's where the referee came and the fight is stopped..
For his part, his coach Ricky Marquez indicated that his boxer seemed to fade in the later rounds.
"Felix's body was not responding well, I think since the third round. Something for which we have no explanation yet, but let's see what happened," Marquez said. "It seems that he could not recover after weighing in. He rehydrated, but the body did not respond."