Felix Verdejo is ready for a brighter future, one which he hopes will include a chance to claim back a piece of his past.
The 27-year old lightweight from San Juan, Puerto Rico collected his fourth straight victory, stopping previously unbeaten Will Madera in one round Thursday evening at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Their ESPN-televised headliner lasted just 2:59, ending with Madera on the canvas after absorbing two uppercuts and a cleanup right hand.
“I took my time, came out calm and composed,” Verdejo (27-1, 17KOs) told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after the bout. “I wanted to measure him up and see how he hard he hit. Once I figured it out, I went in and did my thing. I let my hands go, but always remained in control.”
By his own admission, control has been an issue in the once erratic career of Verdejo. The once rising young star—who was named by BoxingScene.com as the 2013 Prospect of the Year—reached a point of complacency, leading to his lone career defeat when he was stopped in 10 rounds by Mexico’s Antonio Lozada in March 2018.
Four wins have followed, with the last two coming under renowned head trainer Ismael Salas. The vow from the 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian is that of one who has rediscovered his roots. With every day comes a new lesson learned from past mistakes, though still the desire to revisit the past—all the way back to before he turned pro.
Verdejo’s dream of capturing a medal fell one fight short, dropping a decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko in the quarterfinal round of the 2012 London Olympics.
Lomachenko has since emerged as one of the best pound-for-pound talents in the sport, capturing division titles in three divisions along the way. The Ukrainian southpaw currently holds the WBO and WBA lightweight titles—but specifically to Verdejo, he still represents unsettled old business.
“Vasiliy Lomachenko is the number one guy in the 135-pound division. He’s the best lightweight in the world,” notes Verdejo. “More importantly, I want revenge for what happened in the 2012 Olympics.”
Thursday’s win likely won’t get him to that point, as Lomachenko (14-1, 10KOs) is eyeing a three-belt unification clash with IBF lightweight titlist Teofimo Lopez.
Meanwhile, Verdejo is prepared to put the rest of the division on notice.
“The message I sent was that the Felix ‘Diamante’ Verdejo of old is back, so everyone needs to be ready.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox