Will Madera wasn’t surprised by the last-minute request for his services, so much as wondering what took so long to finally land a fight like his next one.
The unbeaten lightweight prospect from Albany, New York remains hell-bent on shocking the world ahead of his challenge of Puerto Rico’s Felix Verdejo. The two will collide July 16 live on ESPN from a crowdless MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the winner to be positioned for a big opportunity in the suddenly talent-rich lightweight division.
“Honestly, I thought this call would come last year,” Madera (15-0-3, 8KOs) told BoxingScene.com. “After my draw with [Christian Uruzquieta], I figured guys like Verdejo and other lightweights would be chasing after my unbeaten record.
“It’s all good, though. I’ve been ready for everyone at lightweight and I will be ready on July 16.”
Madera rose from obscurity to notoriety following an eight-round win over Thomas Mattice in their battle of unbeaten lightweight prospects last February. Their Showtime-televised bout remains his biggest career win to date, though his upcoming clash with Verdejo (26-1, 16KOs), a member of the 2012 Puerto Rico Olympic team and 2013 BoxingScene.com Prospect of the Year who is currently riding a three-fight win streak.
Verdejo’s most recent win came this past January, outpointing Manuel Rojas in an ESPN televised bout at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York. The event featured at least one interested observer.
“I was there for his last fight at Turning Stone,” notes Madera, who is coming off of a 2nd round knockout win this past January in Toronto, Canada. “The fight didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know – he’s a good fighter, but he’s fallen off a bit. He didn’t really impress me that night, to be honest.
“I know I’m going into this fight unknown to a lot of people and everyone knows who [Verdejo] is. They don’t know my name now but they will know me after July 16.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox