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The Present and the Future

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)


If there was any denying that Miguel Cotto is still a major attraction and the most popular Puerto Rican boxer around, those doubts were put to rest as it was announced on Monday afternoon that more tickets would be released for public consumption at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. A crowd of well over 10,000 is expected tonight when he returns against Delvin Rodriguez.
 
Cotto is still very much the present.
 
However, 20-year old Felix Verdejo is the Island’s future.
 
Verdejo, who represented Puerto Rico in the 2012 Olympics, has made an early mark with a string of impressive outings and a certain charisma that has already stamped him as a fan favorite with his countrymen.

And now he gets to showcase his skills in front of a huge throng of Puerto Ricans.
 
“I feel very fortunate. First of all, I thank God for the opportunity and Top Rank, my company, for giving me the opportunity to fight on a card with the best fighter in Puerto Rico right now,” Verdejo said to Maxboxing on Wednesday through his manager, Ricky Marquez.
 
It’s no coincidence that Verdejo was placed on this card.
 
“Absolutely, you want to fish where the fish are and with the popularity that Cotto brings with the Puerto Rican community,” said Carl Moretti, Top Rank’s V.P. of Boxing Operations, “I’m sure a lot of them know about Verdejo already but this is just another way to expand it.”
 
This will be Verdejo’s seventh bout of the year. He’s been keep active by Top Rank, which pleases him. “I’m very happy with the way they’re developing me. I’m fighting a lot and that’s what I want, to keep fighting and developing.”
 
And he’s playing to larger crowds each time out. It’s clear; while other young prizefighters from Puerto Rico (such as Braulio Santos, Jorge Melendez, Orlando Del Valle and Jonathan Gonzalez, among others) have faltered, Verdejo has displayed a certain star quality. Because of this, fans are already hitching themselves onto this bandwagon.
 
“I feel like people are supporting me more and more every fight,” said Verdejo, who’s as friendly a fighter as you’ll ever meet. “And people know me. Everywhere we go now, they talk to me and they show me love.”
 
2013 couldn’t have played out any better to this point for Verdejo, who made his pro debut last December with a rather pedestrian four-round decision over Leonardo Chavez.
 
“It really turned out even better than we thought,” said Moretti. “He’s obviously on his way to being what we feel is the next great fighter from Puerto Rico but also with marketability, promotibility, everything that goes with that island. He’s clearly someone who will carry the torch next, I think, when it comes to that.”
 
Puerto Rico has a long proud history of prizefighters who have represented the island with distinction, most notably Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfredo Benitez, Felix Trinidad and Cotto. So what’s the upside on Verdejo?
 
Marquez says, “I think the sky’s the limit. To me, he’s a combination of ‘Tito,’ ‘JuanMa’ [Lopez], Gomez, a little bit of all of them.”
 
It’s just not the fact he has some physical talent; it’s Verdejo’s amiable and easygoing manner that have already resonated with his people. But he’s also got staying power according to his manager. “I’ve been with him since he was a kid, nine years old,” Marquez explained. “I know the kind of fighter he is. I’m very confident he will do well and he’s a very disciplined kid. He doing all the things you want in a young fighter.”
 
If everything goes well tonight versus Gary Eyer, Moretti says, “He’ll probably fight in December; he’ll probably fight one more time this year and then we hope to be doing a show in New York in January. We’ll bring him back then as well, so that momentum’s only going to keep going and going.”
 
With expectations come pressure and it’s clear that post-Cotto, this Island’s lonely eyes will turn to Verdejo. He doesn’t seem all that fazed.
 
“I’m focused on my work, I know the expectations from the people but I’m very calm about it. I feel all I have to do is work.”

GOLDEN CANELO

Bob Arum had made statements that Saul Alvarez was now a promotional free agent. But those claims were refuted on Friday afternoon when this statement from “Canelo” was sent out by Golden Boy:

Canelo Alvarez, former super welterweight world champion and one of the most popular boxers in modern history, confirmed his loyalty and commitment to Golden Boy Promotions, the leading boxing promoter in the world.
 
“I am very happy with Golden Boy Promotions,” said Canelo today. “I’m scheduled to travel next week to Los Angeles to meet with Richard Schaefer and Eric Gomez for a meeting that we hold after each fight.
 
“I have a contract with Golden Boy Promotions with which I am very happy. Any event or matter that points to the contrary is false.”
 
What’s more interesting is to see how legal proceedings go regarding All-Star Boxing and Golden Boy, who at one time co-promoted Alvarez.
 
SPORTS ON EARTH
 
Here’s my latest contribution to SportsOnEarth.com, a look at the fight between USA Boxing and Mike Tyson:
 
 
TNR
 
Here’s the latest edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
 
 
POUND-FOR-POUND FLURRIES
 
 

OK, I finally gave in and did a pound-for-pound list in this article on Terence Crawford: http://www.maxboxing.com/news/sub-lead/crawford-continues-his-rise...Speaking of Puerto Rican fighters, on this undercard in Orlando, Jayson Velez faces Dat Nguyen and Jorge Melendez takes on Jamaal Davis...Does Alexander Povetkin have a legitimate shot to topple Wladimir Klitschko?...Did Mack Brown give a game ball to the Big 12 officials after that gift versus Iowa State?....UCLA, if Brett Hundley sticks around next year, you can be BCS title contenders in 2014...Whoa, “A-Rod” is going all in; isn’t he?...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.



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