At the age of 23, Felix is a three-year pro. A sensational prospect at 135 pounds, he is a former amateur standout who represented Puerto Rico in the 2012 Olympics.
He is one of boxing’s top young talents, and many observers see him as the next in the long, distinguished line of great Puerto Rican champions, following Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto.
Felix has drawn large, enthusiastic crowds wherever he fights and given impressive performances every time.
He stayed very active in the ring with seven fights in 2014 and three in 2015, and has already fought three times in 2016. He has made good progress – his last six fights were scheduled for 10 rounds, and he stepped up in class of opposition. Two of his last five opponents were previously undefeated prospects.
In his last fight on June 11 in New York, he won by fifth-round TKO against Juan Jose Martinez.
The Ring’s Mitch Abramson reported [excerpts]: Verdejo acknowledged his last two performances weren’t reflective of his potential. Verdejo blamed a lack of focus on those performances.
Puerto Rico’s Verdejo certainly looked dedicated on Saturday, stopping the rugged Juan Jose Martinez at 2:40 of the fifth round in a lightweight bout at Madison Square Garden’s Theater before an announced crowd of 4,545 on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Verdejo was crisp and aggressive throughout, showing the explosiveness that has made his handlers believe he can one day succeed Miguel Cotto as the next Puerto Rican star.
Verdejo stunned Martinez with a hard right hand in the fifth and jumped on him, trapping him along the ropes and raining down punches, causing [the] referee to intervene and wave the fight off. Verdejo led by scores of 40-36, 40-36 and 40-36 at the time of the stoppage, winning each round.
Verdejo appeared sharper and more focused than he had recently, controlling the fight and never appearing in danger. A cut appeared over the right eye of Martinez in the third round, the result of a slicing left. Verdejo connected with another counter-left later in the round causing the cut to widen.
Verdejo’’s commitment to his jab in the fourth round re-opened the cut after his corner had worked to close it. Verdejo assaulted Jose Martinez’s body in the second half of the round, causing the 30-year-old to briefly back off.
It was an impressive performance that will do wonders for a young fighter…. [End Abramson item]
After the fight, Felix said, “My career depended on this fight and I knew that. And it showed. I had the distractions like a young guy, but it won’t happen again.
“I had trained a lot harder and I have adjusted to the pressure I had in my previous fights. I lost focus in those fights and I had to work much harder to regain it. He came to fight. It was my kind of fight. I just want to fight the best that’s out there.”
Manager-trainer Ricky Marquez said, “I’ve been training Felix since his first day in the gym at the age of nine. He trains at my gym – ‘El Diamante’ – in Trujillo Alto. That’s where he got his nickname.”
Felix said through an interpreter, “I’m a technical boxer with good power. The fighters I admire here are José Pedraza, Rocky Martinez, and Yovanny Rodriguez. We don’t all train in the same gym, but we train together sometimes and we are good friends.
“I want to be a role model for the kids, the same way that Felix Trinidad was to me. That’s what I want to be now for the younger kids.”
About his nickname, Felix said, “The name of the gym where I was training was ‘El Diamante.’ There was a guy from a boxing webpage here in Puerto Rico, and he was the first one to call me that.”