By Ryan Burton
2012 Puerto Rican Olympian Felix "Diamante" Verdejo (24-1) returns to the ring on April 20th against former interim super featherweight champion Bryan "Tiquito" Vasquez. The fight is part of the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan ESPN produced pay-per-view undercard.
The 25-year-old is currently in the middle of his training camp in Puerto Rico and his strength and conditioning coach Angel "Memo" Heredia is very pleased with the progress his fighter has made.
"Camp is going very well. Felix is a fantastic kid. Me and him, we have a fantastic chemistry along with the whole team. He is very motivated and training very hard. He does everything 100%. His abilities go beyond just boxing. He is very athletic. He can sprint. He can jump and he is a very complete fighter," said Heredia.
Verdejo was on the fast track to stardom when he signed with Top Rank Inc. out of the Olympics but so far he hasn't realized his potential.
He suffered his first career loss last March when he was stopped by Antonio Lozada in New York. That loss, coupled with injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident and other issues outside of the ring led Verdejo and his manager/trainer Ricky Marquez to shake up their team.
He bounced back from that loss in November when he stopped journeyman Yardley Cruz in two rounds after completing his first camp with his new team. Heredia was brought on as strength and conditioning coach and Evangelista Cotto was brought aboard as co-trainer. Cotto is best known for his work with his nephew, former four-division champion Miguel Cotto.
Heredia said that they are adding even more wrinkles for the upcoming Vasquez bout.
"For a conditioning coach you can work with anyone but when you get a guy with fast hands, that is explosive athletic, you can do a lot of workouts. You can build stronger and more solid programs. Remember, this is our second fight together. I am very happy with the way things are going. The first camp we were getting to know each other. I didn't know what to expect but I was very pleased with him and how we connected right away. We have a very solid relationship and now there is more chemistry. The whole team, Cotto, Marquez, Felix and myself are very excited on what is coming up," Heredia told BoxingScene.com.
"We know that this fight is very important. This is not an easy fight. The kid we are fighting - Tiquito Vasquez - was a world champion. It is a difficult fight and he is a strong guy. I have a lot of respect for him. It is a good test and a very good challenge for Felix. I have been here a little more than four weeks and the training has been very intense. It has been more complicated than last camp. We are doing things a little bit differently with more mobility and more reaction exercises where he can develop more speed and quickness and improve his reactions. Obviously we are going to keep working on his endurance. It is going great and I am very pleased."
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