Friday, August 12, 2022  |



Felix Verdejo stays undefeated but doesn’t exactly impress vs. Silva



Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Felix Verdejo won on Saturday. He beat an undefeated fighter. And he kept his record perfect with the promise of greatness in some form still ahead of him. But he did little to enhance his profile and encourage comparisons to his countryman Felix Trinidad, the fighter he’s so often compared to. That may be a harsh assessment but when you’re considered a future pay-per-view performer, someone expected to pick up the mantle left behind by the soon-to-be-retired Miguel Cotto as the next great Puerto Rican performer, expectations are sky high.

Perhaps it’s best to put it this way: Verdejo (20-0, 14 knockouts) did what he had to do to beat an undefeated but unheralded fighter in Brazil’s Willian Silva (23-1, 14 KOs) by judges’ scores of 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91 at Madison Square Garden’s Theater before an announced crowd of 5,092, a sellout in a lightweight bout.

Those scores describe a dominant performance but it would be hyperbole to describe this fight that way. Maybe too much respect was offered by both fighters. Maybe Verdejo wanted to be cautious and not throw too many punches to leave himself open.

It was his second fight since having surgery on his left hand in June to remove bone spurs and he has proclaimed himself healthy with no more pain in the hand.

“I felt very good,” Verdejo said afterward. “But he moved a lot. I did what I had to do to get the win. It was a learning experience for me.”

Verdejo piled up rounds, acting as the aggressor. But not much was happening for large swaths of the rounds as the fighters circled each other. Every now and then Verdejo would land a lunging right-left combination. Silva landed a chopping right in the seventh that did little damage. The two finally traded leather in the final round, vigorously trying to outdo the other but the scant sound of boos could be heard from the crowd as the fight ended.

San Juan’s Verdejo is scheduled to fight again in his homeland on April 16 and then back again at Madison Square Garden in June.


Popular junior welterweight Julian Rodriguez, whose fans seemed to dominate the crowd, dropped King Daluz with a loud body shot in the seventh round and won an eight-round unanimous decision to improve to 12-0. Rodriguez won by scores of 79-72, 80-71, 80-71 as Daluz’s right eye was a bloody mess.

Jean Carlos Torres, a muscular lightweight from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, dropped Miguel Gloria three times, once in the first and twice in the secon,d before his bout was stopped just 20 seconds into the third round. Torres moved to 4-0 with three knockouts while Gloria dropped to 1-2.

Sean Monaghan (26-0, 16 KOs) kept his record unblemished to keep a possible title shot alive in the future, stopping Janne Forsman (21-4, 13 KOs) at 1:34 of the fifth round of a light heavyweight bout in an efficient, workmanlike performance.

Highly touted featherweight Christopher Diaz (15-0, 10 KOs) won in devastating fashion on Saturday, slamming several unanswered punches into the face of a defenseless Angel Luna (12-2-1, 7 KOs) and causing the bout to be stopped at 2:42 of the fourth round as referee David Fields was late to intervene. Diaz teed off on Luna, who skittered backward into the ropes. At that point, Fields should have counted it as a knockdown since the ropes were the only thing that kept Luna upright. But Diaz was allowed to keep swinging as Luna sagged grotesquely into the ropes before Fields finally stopped it. Diaz is now scheduled to return to his native Puerto Rico (he’s from Barranquitas) in April, along with stablemate Felix Verdejo, and then again in June at Madison Square Garden.

Star Boxing’s Emanuel Taylor (19-4, 13 KOs) kept busy with a sixth-round knockout of trial-horse Wilfredo Acuna, patiently taking care of business in the opener before most fans had settled into their seats. The end came at 2:59 of the sixth of the junior welterweight bout.