By Ryan Burton
Felix Verdejo (24-1) is just weeks away from the biggest fight of his young career. On April 20th he faced former interim champion Bryan Vasquez (37-3) on the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan pay-per-view undercard. The ESPN distributed card takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian has had an uneven start to his career. He looked very strong early on and then suffered a motorcycle accident amidst rumors of discipline problems outside of the ring.
His strength and conditioning coach Memo Heredia is in the middle of his training camp with Verdejo and said that he has had no issues in this camp.
"When I was in camp with (Yordenis) Ugas he was still keeping in condition with (Ricky) Marquez his boxing coach. So when I got here I was happy to see him in like around 50% shape. When that happens it is very good because you don't have to start from scratch. You can start from a different direction and can go in different angles in training because you have some sort of platform of endurance so it is going good," Heredia told BoxingScene.com in Puerto Rico a couple weeks ago.
Verdejo’s career hit bottom last March when he was stopped by Antonio Lozada in the 10th round of a bout the Boricua was winning on the scorecards.
Heredia began working with Verdejo after that fight and immediately spotted the problems that he had in that fight.
“When I saw him in the fight he lost I saw he did well in the early rounds and was moving okay but then it seemed like he crashed into a solid wall which in my opinion - because I hadn't had any contact with him or his coaches at the time - by watching on the tv he possibly either overtrained or lacked conditioning.
“Because having a guy who can train hard and does a lot of running on the streets but doesn't do much on the track, or swimming or condition can definitely do good in a fight that goes the distance but when it comes to going one on one with a guy who is coming at you and making you work that is a time where if you are not well conditioned you are going to face a problem and I thought that was the problem,” said Heredia.
The veteran strength and conditioning coach said that there is a delicate balance between improving a fighter in certain areas without sacrificing in others. He believes that Verdejo will put total of his best potential on display versus Vasquez.
“Once I got hired and we started working on our first fight he explained to me that he struggled to make weight and that he started late to do his diet and that he had to lose a lot of weight real quick in a week to make weight. Then talking to his coach he told me the same thing and Felix even told me after the 4th round he couldn't feel his legs. He was trying to respond but it wasn't happening. He didn't have any legs. So by hearing that I kind of thought it wasn't that he was undertrained but he could have done specific exercises to avoid those problems and also I believe that he over dehydrated himself and he did not rehydrate well," Heredia explained.
“Basically seeing that and how he still almost went to the end of the fight I designed a program for Felix to keep his feet, his explosiveness, his reactions without affecting endurance. Sometimes when you are working on feet and explosiveness you can get that result where they are more explosive and have quicker hands but they are affected endurance wise and that is something we don't want to do and I have never had that issue. We did that the last fight but that fight only went two rounds so this time we will be able to explore more with Felix and see how he keeps his explosiveness and endurance."
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