Puerto Rican lightweight contender Felix Verdejo is doing well and looking forward to rebuilding his career - after suffering a big setback earlier this month.

After building some steam with a looming 2021 clash with unified champion Teofimo Lopez, the unexpected took place as Verdejo was knocked out in the ninth round by Japanese slugger Masayoshi Nakatani.

With the loss, Verdejo saw his record drop to 27-2 and 17 KO's.

Both of his defeats have been by knockout. And both defeats saw Verdejo fade down the stretch,

“I'm calm and happy because even though we didn't have the final result we wanted it was a tremendous fight and I felt good. I think that by throwing all of the hard shots in the earlier rounds lowered my stamina in the later rounds and that was the factor in the final outcome,” Verdejo told Carlos Narvaez.

“Nakatani arrived with a punch that we did not expect. (Ismael) Salas (my coach) told me at the whole time that 'there is no need to make a mess. You're winning,' but I didn't completely listen to the corner and got carried away (with trading punches)."

Nakatani, who was knocked down twice in the early rounds, fully recovered to drop Verdejo twice for the knockout win in the ninth.

“I do not rule out a rematch to remove that thorn. It would be something that I know a lot of people would like. But that decision was left to the promoter. I am still young and things happen in life for a reason. I still want to be a world champion. I have the desire and the passion, and that is what keeps me here. I have the caliber to be a world champion. How many champions are there who are inferior to me, and without looking to detract from them. But a loss does not define one as a boxer. I'm at my best,” Verdejo said.

Verdejo is now aware that he will have to be more patient than ever before. Top Rank, his promoter, will be revising the path for him in 2021.

“I am aware that they had very big plans for me and that this defeat will now make it longer [to get there]. But for me it's just a matter of getting back in the ring and resuming my streak of wins. Thanks to the setbacks I have learned and this is no exception," Verdejo said.