HOLLYWOOD, Florida – The last time Will Madera performed on American television, Felix Verdejo caught him with a right uppercut that led to Madera’s only loss as a professional.
Two years after suffering that first-round knockout defeat, Madera is determined to capitalize on his second chance against Brandun Lee on Saturday night. Madera (17-1-3, 10 KOs), of Albany, New York, will battle the hard-hitting Lee in the opener of Showtime’s four-bout broadcast from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, where he’ll attempt to out-think and out-maneuver the heavily favored Lee.
“I think he can be out-boxed and I think if I’m smart in the beginning of the fight, then I can do what I wanna do,” Madera told BoxingScene.com following a press conference Thursday. “It all depends on how I feel in the ring. I planned on boxing my last fight, and after the first couple rounds, I said, ‘I’m gonna take the fight to him,’ and I ended up stopping him [after] the fifth. It all depends on how it goes in the first few rounds with Brandun Lee.”
Madera defeated Jamshidbek Najmitdinov by technical knockout following the fifth round last October 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which helped make him a reasonable opponent for the unbeaten Lee (25-0, 22 KOs). Uzbekistan’s Najmitdinov, who was 19-1 when they fought, sustained an arm injury that prohibited him from boxing beyond the fifth round, but Madera was in front by the same score, 48-47, on all three cards through five rounds.
Brooklyn’s Zachary Ochoa ended Lee’s 15-fight knockout streak in Lee’s most recent appearance. The La Quinta, California native won their 10-rounder unanimously on the Errol Spence Jr.-Yordenis Ugas undercard April 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but Madera considers himself a more challenging opponent than Ochoa (21-3, 7 KOs).
“He’s a strong kid, young, likes to come forward, likes to impose his size on his opponents,” Madera said of Lee. “But I believe I am a step up for him. Out of all his opponents, I feel I’m the most experienced out of all of ‘em.”
Lee, 23, and Madera, 31, were supposed to square off as part of the Jake Paul-Hasim Rahman Jr. undercard August 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Once that Showtime Pay-Per-View event was scrapped due to Rahman’s weight issue, the 10-round Lee-Madera match was moved to a “Showtime Championship Boxing” telecast that was initially scheduled to feature Adrien Broner and Omar Figueroa Jr. in the main event.
“I’ve been through it a lot, just having postponements and cancelations,” Madera said. “It’s a drag, but it’s all mental when it comes down to it. The only good thing about it was I was promised I was still fighting, so I still had my hopes up. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’m not fighting no more, so it’s back to the drawing board.’ It was, ‘You’re not fighting today, but you have a date later on.’ So, I had to stay ready. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to putting on a show. Win, lose or draw, people are gonna wanna see me again.”
Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, will box Kazakhstan’s Sergey Lipinets (16-2-1, 12 KOs) in the 12-round, 140-pound main event of a telecast that’ll start at 8 p.m. ET. Lipinets replaced Cincinnati’s Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) on five days’ notice because Broner withdrew from the Figueroa fight to focus on his mental health.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.