Tuesday, March 21, 2023  |


Felix Verdejo faces Oscar Bravo in UniMas main event tonight



It is not uncommon for young athletes to aspire to be like their heroes.

Take Felix Verdejo. Like most who lived on the Caribbean island, Verdejo looked up to Felix Trinidad, one of the greatest fighters to come out of Puerto Rico.

Whether it was the devastating power or the charisma Trinidad possessed throughout his career, Verdejo envisioned himself doing what Trinidad had become very famous for.

Now the shoe is on the other foot so to speak as Verdejo not only has Puerto Rico buzzing as an unbeaten lightweight prospect, but the boxing world as well.

Verdejo will fight Oscar Bravo in an eight-round bout at the Coliseo Hector Sola Bezares in Caguas, Puerto Rico. The bout will headline a Top Rank/ Miguel Cotto Promotions card and will be televised on UniMas at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

In the eyes of seasoned boxing writers and diehard fans, Verdejo is not just an unbeaten prospect. Based on his skills and physical attributes, Verdejo could be putting together the makings of becoming a great fighter, one who could win multiple world titles in different weight classes.

After a successful amateur career that culminated with winning a Bronze medal in the 2012 London Games, Verdejo has matched and exceeded expectations as a pro thus far.

While he has faced unbeaten opposition, he has steamrolled through. In his January 25 bout against Lauro Alcantar, Verdejo knocked him out in 21 seconds of the first round.

He is expected to not only get rounds, but to be tested by Oscar Bravo, a rugged veteran who has never been stopped. He has faced and lost to Diego Magadleno and Mason Menard in recent bouts, but gave a decent account of himself.

Which begs the question of whether Verdejo can equal or surpass what those two fighters did or will he succumb to the clever tactics of Bravo.

Verdejo is ready for that challenge, expecting the best Bravo to test him.

“I’m just very happy and glad to have this opportunity to fight,” Verdejo told RingTV.com over the phone on Wednesday morning. “Bravo is an experienced rival and I know he has prepared well for this fight. I had a great camp and I will give it my best to win, whether it be by decision or knockout.”

Verdejo’s fists have spoken volumes in the ring. Aside from the Alcantar knockout, Verdejo has produced pulsating and spectacular knockouts over his foes.

But Verdejo has demonstrated well-rounded boxing skills for a 21 year old. His mannerisms rival those of veterans and champions of the sport and some in the boxing world do not think he has reached his potential yet.

Others point to his mental approach as the reason why he has been successful. His soft-spoken and quiet demeanor has appealed to many fight fans abroad and not just fight fans in Puerto Rico.

Whether he is mobbed in public or fights before packed arenas on the island, he aims to remain level-headed and humble.

“I appreciate all of the support from the people,” said Verdejo, who is a devout Christian. “It makes me work harder and it motivates me. I work hard because I want to set a good example for the younger generation. There are good people in Puerto Rico and I want the best for them.”

It will be interesting to see how the love and admiration from Puerto Rican and boxing fans will be as Verdejo continues to his rise from prospect to contender.

If Verdejo is mirroring the page of fighting often as Trinidad did early in his career, then his skill set will continue to improve. In an age where prospects are wary of fighting even more than two or three times a year, Verdejo is one of a handful of prospects that is doing the opposite.

“I’ve had good fights and I like fighting often. It humbles me when I hear comparisons are made with Trinidad. It means I may be doing something good in the ring. But I want to stay focused and keep gaining experience.”

Barring an injury, Verdejo will likely fight once or twice more in 2014. Whether those fights take place in Puerto Rico or abroad, the boxing world will definitely take note.

At this stage of his career, Verdejo has created a buzz few fighters can rival today in boxing. It could be a similarity as to what Trinidad went through about 20 to 25 years ago on the island. Look how he turned out.

“The support makes me work that much harder. It will pay off.”


Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing