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THE BUZZ IS BACK!? Felix Verdejo Aggression In KO1 Win Restores Optimism

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As I set down to write this, instead of diving in and sharing what I thought of the win by Felix Verdejo on July 16 over Will Madera at “The Bubble” in Vegas, I instead did an archive search.

I wanted to figure out when I admitted to readers that I was wanting more from Felix Verdejo, if indeed this guy was to be the next big pugilistic thing from Puerto Rico.

Nope, I didn’t admit it, and I should have, more confidently, when he wasn’t HANDLING guys like you want if you think a guy is a soon to be superstar. At the MSG Theater, sure he got Ws over Ivan Najera (June 2015) and William Silva (February 2016), but he didn’t blow me away, or come close, in doing it. But I know myself, a bit. I know that I will sometimes try to quiet a nagging voice, because I realize I have biases. Such as, I sometimes too much favor aggression. During many Verdejo rounds, I’d wonder why I saw so much movement, supposed smart boxing, when I was pretty sure that he held a considerable power advantage over foes. Felix, Bomaye!

The loss to Antonio Lozada Torres in March 2018….

…had everyone on the same page, we had to dial back the optimism and get grounded in brutal truth.

This young gun diamond has to hit a reset button, he’s in danger of not panning out. I spoke to Bob Arum, his promoter, after Felix took his first L, and Bob said that after Oscar Valdez, Ramirez and Verdejo were signed after the 2012 Olympics, “Everyone at Top Rank thought Verdejo was the best prospect, and look what happened.” Maybe he could put it together,” Arum said, but his growth hasn’t been what was expected.

Four fights later, after much looking in the mirror and pondering what he was looking at…and healing up from injuries…and wondering if it was him, or the program, or a combination, it’s back to a point where you have to consider maybe that arc that was expected of the now 27 year old, a version of that could still come to fruition.

The focus and aggression of this Verdejo, the guy who has drilled with trainer Ismael Salas for two fights, well, that’s a boxer I am eager to see again soon. Here is the release Top Rank sent out synopsizing the whole card:

LAS VEGAS (July 16, 2020) — Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo entered, and then conquered, the MGM Grand “Bubble.” The Puerto Rican star knocked out the previously undefeated “Ill” Will Madera in the opening round of a scheduled 10-round lightweight bout Thursday evening.

Felix Verdejo looked impressive winning at MGM on July 16, 2020, on ESPN.

We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, should we? But if Verdejo fights in this manner, he could indeed build back the foundation of expectation present in 2014 and before. (Photo by Mikey Williams)

Verdejo (27-1, 17 KOs) pinned Madera (15-1-3, 8 KOs) to the ropes and unloaded with a series of power shots. Madera slumped to the canvas, and referee Robert Hoyle called off the bout at 2:59 of the first round. 

Verdejo, who represented the island nation at the 2012 Olympics, has now won four straight bouts and is in the thick of the lightweight title picture.

“I am proud of the work I put in with my trainer, Ismael Salas. The hard work is paying off,” Verdejo said. “Madera is a good fighter, but when I had him hurt, I knew I could finish him.

“As for what’s next, Vasiliy Lomachenko is the top guy at lightweight. We have unfinished business from when he beat me in the Olympics. That’s the fight I ultimately want.”

— Heavyweight prodigy Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson (below, in picture by Mikey Williams; 5-0, 5 KOs) made quick work of Hector Perez (7-3, 3 KOs), knocking him out with an overhand right at 1:45 of the opening round. Anderson, from Toledo, Ohio, has four first-round stoppages on his ledger.

Jared Anderson smiles after winning on July 16, 2020 in Las Vegas and on ESPN.

That was too quick! I got him out of there and implemented what I’ve been working on in the gym. I want to return as soon as possible. I leave that in the hands of my promoter, but when they give me a date, I’ll be ready,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t matter who they put in front of me. Any of these guys who have fought in the ‘Bubble,’ I’ll fight them.”

— Martino Jules (10-0, 2 KOs) left Las Vegas with his unbeaten record, as the featherweight prospect topped Aleem Jumakhonov (8-3-2, 4 KOs) by majority decision (76-76, 78-74 2x). 

— In the four-round lightweight opener, Kenny Davis Jr. (3-2-1) edged Eduardo Sanchez (2-3) by majority decision (37-37, 38-36 2x). Sanchez was knocked down with a body shot in the third round, while Davis had a point deducted in the fourth for spitting out his mouthpiece.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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