Boxing News: Felix Verdejo Emerges as Next Big Latino Superstar From Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico may be smaller than 48 of the U.S. States, but it is no stranger to producing boxing talent.
Some of the most well known boxers in history have hailed from Puerto Rico such as Felix Trinidad, Carlos Ortiz, Wilfredo Gomez and so many more. One of the rising young stars out of Puerto Rico today is Felix Verdejo.
Verdejo defeated Ivan Najera at Madison Square Garden to extend his undefeated record to a perfect 18-0. With that win, Verdejo is now the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound Puerto Rican-born boxer in the world. Miguel Cotto, who was born in New York, is the top ranked boxer with Puerto Rican heritage. Cotto is 34 years old, and he has even had his chance with both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the ring. However, he lost both matches.
Saul Alvarez is the top ranked Latin American boxer today.
Many fans believe Verdejo could be the "next big thing" from Puerto Rico to take over the boxing world.
Verdejo has recorded 13 knockouts in his 18 victories. His third round knockout against Sergio Villanueva last year was extremely impressive. Verdejo has good speed, good power, the size and great counter punching skills.
His rise to 18-0 shouldn't be too surprising. ESPN named him the "Prospect of the Year" in 2014 despite the fact that he began his childhood playing baseball.
"I loved boxing from the first day I tried it. I was always getting into fights in the streets, so I used boxing for discipline instead of fighting in the streets. As a professional boxer, I want to be a world champion. I want to unite my country and bring happiness to my people," Verdejo said.
Verdejo is a member of Top Rank Boxing.
Verdejo also represented Puerto Rico at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. Verdejo has fought six of his 18 professional fights in Puerto Rico, wining every one of them. Standing 5-foot-9, Verdejo has an lengthy reach of 71 inches, which has proven to be very problematic for his opponents. Verdejo is currently fighting at 141 pounds, but many believe he will increase that to fight at the welterweight division.
It's extremely unlikely we will ever see Verdejo take on Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao in the future, but Verdejo may have his sights on other younger stars in the Welterweight division. Boxers such as Timothy Bradley, Keith Thurman and maybe even Amir Khan could be in Verdejo's future.
It's well known that Mexico and Puerto Rico have an intense boxing rivalry. Remember Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad in 1999? A Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Verdejo fight would certainly fill the seats at any North American arena. On a positive note, Verdejo has said in the past that he looks up to Cotto.
With heavyweight boxing intensity at an all-time low, middleweights, lightweights and welterweights are thriving like never before. Verdejo is still young, but he shows as much promise as any 22-year-old going forward.
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