Verdejo Moving Forward

By Christian Giudice on April 25, 2015
Verdejo Moving Forward
Verdejo spoke about his boxing roots and love for Puerto Rican greats. (Peter Amador)

“The typical boxer in Puerto Rico is a stylish matador with good foot movement, a varied attack, and counterpunching abilities…”

The term “prospect” is often overused in the sport of boxing, but occasionally a fighter will come along who exhibits all of the skills and qualities that separate him from other young fighters on the same path. There are boxing prospects, and then there are those young fighters who have earned the label as the “next” great fighter. In Puerto Rico, every young boxer must cope with having the burden of being compared with the legendary fighters of the past. After 16 fights, Puerto Rico’s Felix Verdejo (16-0, 12 KOs) will soon be facing the type of opponent who will act as a true measuring stick and help determine if the young fighter stagnates or progresses to a fighter worthy of challenging for a world title in the next year. Showing maturity, patience, and power, when Verdejo throws his deadly left hook it forces some Puerto Rican fans to think back to names like Wilfredo Gomez, Felix Trinidad, and Esteban DeJesus. Clearly, Verdejo has a long way to go, but when he faces Marco Antonio Lopez on Saturday night in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, in a 10-round lightweight bout, he will be taking another necessary step in his development. recently spoke with Verdejo about his boxing roots and love for Puerto Rican boxing greats.

Q: When did you begin boxing and what was your inspiration?

FV: I began boxing at nine years old, at that time Tito Trinidad was Puerto Rico’s champion and he was my inspiration.

Q: What was it about the sport of boxing that appealed to you?

FV: At the time I was living Las Gladiolas, a project the government demolished a couple of years ago and in there kids had to be tough or the other kids would bullied you. When I saw the possibility of learning some moves to defend myself that was the first thing that appealed to me about boxing.

Q: Who was your first trainer and where did you begin to train as a boxer?

FV: My first trainer was and still is my trainer/manager Ricky Marquez. He was the first person who taught me the sport after my godfather took me to the Polideportivo Rebekah Colberg Gym in San Juan.

Q: How did your family react to your decision to box?

FV: I think my family liked the idea of me becoming a boxer. They were always supportive, since we were all in sports. My mom and sisters were track and field athletes and I also played little league baseball.

Q: What do you remember about the first time you got in the ring to spar?

FV: I remember Ricky put me in the ring against a more kid with more experience, but he told me he liked my toughness and my will to keep going and that was all he wanted to see because everything else he could teach it to me.

Q: How would you describe the style of the typical Puerto Rican boxer?

FV: The typical boxer in Puerto Rico is a stylish matador with good foot movement, a varied attack, and counterpunching abilities. He also has a combination of many styles and good defensive skills. At least that was the style I was taught and, believe me, it took Ricky some time to take out the toe-to-toe style I liked as a kid.

Q: Now as an accomplished boxer, is there one boxer whose style appeals to you?

FV: As a youngster I really admired and still will forever admire Tito Trinidad. He is an inspiration for many like me because of how he conducts himself in and out of the ring. The other fighter I really admire and look up to is Mexican Juan Manuel Márquez. He is my favorite fighter now.

Christian Giudice
Author: The Rise and Fall of Alexis Argüello
Author: Hands of Stone: The Life and Legend of Roberto Duran

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