Felix Verdejo’s tenth round stoppage loss to Antonio Lozada at the MSG Theater on Saturday evening stands as the biggest jaw dropper of the night. Jose Ramirez and the rest of the Top Rank favorites got Ws, but the Puerto Rican young gun fizzled in his comeback fight.
Verdejo, age 24, had been off more than a year, and was seeking to get his momentum back on the fast track. The momo had stalled some when he got a UD10 in Feb. 2016 and then again in April.
More, we want more from you…we want explosivity and stoppages, detractors said.
He gave them that against Juan Martinez in NYC in June 2016, but was unable to get the stoppage when he downed Oliver Flores to kick off 2017. A fight with Terry Flanagan was set for September, but an injury to Flanagan in July scratched it. Then a cycle accident in August 2017 laid Verdejo up. He recouped, started training to fight Lozada in September. But a few weeks before, he was injured. He slipped in the shower and hurt his wrist, we heard.
Yep; he’d have to work that much harder, and fate would have to start smiling on him again if he wanted to become “the next Felix Trinidad.”
Or maybe he’s just not destined to be that…
We saw on Saturday Verdejo winning rounds, but doing so in a manner which may not give him the best chance to win. His aggression is most often on display as he’s retreating. He’s using his legs so much, to avoid contact, that his stamina tank dipped late, and that’s when Lozada caught him. In round ten, Verdejo went down. He got up, worked to survive, but got tagged, and ultra late in the round the ring doc demanded the fight be stopped.
Verdejo corner-man Tommy Gallagher, who’d handled Felix’ trainer, Ricky Marquez, when Marquez campaigned in the mid 80s, was incensed. He went mildly ballistic in the ring, giving the doc his three cents, furious that the fight was halted at 2:37 of the round. 23 seconds more and the kid was maybe going to win. (Two of three judges had Felix up on the cards after nine.)
Gallagher told RING on Sunday that a NYSAC commissioner had informed him he’d be suspended for his conduct following the Verdejo loss.
Without knowing the exact back and forth, my POV on the matter was this: boxing ain’t tiddlywinks.
Passions get inflamed, among participants and principals, because, hello, lives are on the line, and careers are too. Gallagher told me after that he was pained that the doc pulled the plug. Boxing is Felix’ life, he told me. Yes, officials are occasionally going to be informed, vehemently, sometimes with unsavory word choice, that their actions were not meriting appreciation in the eyes of onlookers. Yeah, sometimes salty language gets used and voices get raised. And in the heat of battle, sometimes maybe we tend to raise our voice when a more measured tone would be preferable, to keep tempers in check. I wasn’t there…but all in all, I think some leeway to factor in the passion felt by participants might be called for here.
So I reached out to the NYSAC, and asked if, indeed, fight game lifer Gallagher was to be hit with a suspension. NYSAC spokesman Lee Camp replied:
“The New York State Athletic Commission is taking administrative action against licensee Tommy Gallagher, who used vulgar and abusive language toward NYSAC medical personnel on Saturday.
In this specific case, the NYSAC Medical Director made the difficult – and 100 percent correct – decision to stop a bout on medical grounds with only 30 seconds left on the clock in the final round. One punch can be the difference between life and death.
The NYSAC Medical Director – with the sole job to protect the fighter – was then berated by Mr. Gallagher, a cornerman for the fighter, for stopping the fight. The physician remained calm and stepped away after ensuring the fighter was safe. The fighter apologized to NYSAC personnel for the behavior of his cornerman.
Physicians take an oath to always protect the health of those under their care. While ringside medicine is practiced in a different arena than the confines of a hospital or ER, the duties and obligations to protect the health and safety of the fighters never waiver. When fighters enter the ring or cage, they entrust medical personnel with their health.
NYSAC will not tolerate any threatening, vulgar or abusive language or actions directed toward medical staff. Any licensee who engages in such behavior will face significant penalties. NYSAC Medical staff will not be intimidated. Nor will they compromise their critical role in ensuring fighter safety.”
Gallagher told me Thursday he stands by standing up for his fighter, and will respectfully appeal any suspension. His bottom line: the ref was right there, had the best view, and he didn’t step in and end it. Why did the doctor do it?
My bottom line: I hope NYSAC considers his lifetime of service to the sport and realizes he was just thinking in terms of how much was at stake for his fighter. A title shot was in his sites and it slid down the drain as the doc hopped up the stairs…He was heated, because he cares.