Verdejo Ready For Another Garden Boxing Event? • Latino Sports

Boxing

Verdejo Ready For Another Garden Boxing Event?

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Photo: Peter Amador/Top Rank

Photo: Peter Amador/Top Rank

New York, NY – Top Rank returns to Madison Square Garden With Felix Verdejo.

Boxing Promoter Bob Arum was back at Madison Square Garden Thursday afternoon and without Miguel Cotto. And why was that so significant to not have Cotto by his side?  Cotto has moved on with another promotion and Arum is now pushing Felix Verdejo as the premiere fighter from Puerto Rico fighting in New York City.

But Verdejo is no rookie when it comes to fighting at the Garden, fighting five times in the Theatre and not the main arena, winning all five bouts he has been there. Cotto sold out the Garden during his tenure with Arum and Top Rank and it became a traditional event for the four-time champion from Puerto Rico to fight at the Garden on the eve of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Now that spotlight turns to Verdejo, though the undefeated (21-0, 14 KO’s) Latino Lightweight champion by no means should be compared to Cotto. That does not mean that Verdejo can’t rival Cotto with popularity in New York, especially with the Puerto Rican community, and there is still ample time for Arum and Top Rank to do that.

And this is the second straight year that puts Verdejo in the spotlight on the eve of the parade.

So now it is up to Verdejo to prove he has that marketability and appeal to be like Cotto, perhaps not in the ring with a similar style but with a major fan base who flocked to see Cotto over the years in the main arena at the Garden on a Saturday night before the parade.

Prior to Verdejo’s last win at the Garden in February, against William Silva, Arum was asked if Verdejo would be part of a promotion on the evening before the parade, and similar to the way it was done many years with Cotto. Indeed that was in the works and Verdejo will co headline an HBO championship televised card of boxing at the Theatre, Saturday June 11.

And it will be a week of events for Verdejo in New York, just like it was always with Cotto, before he faces Juan Jose Martinez in defense of his Latino Lightweight crown. Verdejo will appear before youth groups in Latino communities and have a open workout at an annual street fair in the Bronx if the schedules permit.

So there is that definite comparison as to how Arum is promoting Verdejo in New York City. And there should be with a vast majority of Latino boxing fans in the surrounding five boroughs of New York Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut.  Though the fans do expect to see a knockout from Verdejo who has not been able to finish the job in his last two fights.

And the knockout from Cotto is what always electrified the Garden fans.

To that part of having to finish off an opponent with a stoppage, Verdejo said through an interpreter regarding Martinez, “It’s a tough opponent. People don’t realize not all the fights are going to be won by knockout. It goes the distance and you just train hard for every fight. Every opponent is different. “

Silva was not easy to stop in that last fight at the Garden. Verdejo said, “The guy was running, so what can I do about that?  I don’t worry what people say in the stands. I just do my job in the ring.”

In the end though, it is about Verdejo and making his fans content.  He says this Garden June date has nothing to do with Cotto. It is about him and, “representing my people every year. I like to do this as a tradition”

And that is the goal that Arum has. To make this an annual date for Felix Verdejo at Madison Square Garden, and with four fights on the calendar year for the lightweight the scheduling for this event the evening before the parade is workable.

In the end though, Verdejo is a fighter and with that goal of getting one of the major belts in his weight class.  Arum says it may take some more time and it could lead to an eventual pay-per-view opportunity and lucrative pay dates, assuming of course that Verdejo keeps his end of the bargain by continuing to compile wins.

“All I want is an opponent that will work me and get me better for every fight, “he said when asked about strategy regarding Martinez, 25-2, 17 KO’s. “I’m always prepared. That’s a good thing being active every year is a good thing.”

About Rich Mancuso

Established sports journalist and educator. Contact Rich at [email protected]

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