Felix Verdejo, left, was upset in his last fight vs. Antonio Lozada Jr. (Photo: Mikey Williams – Top Rank)
By Chris Robinson
On March 17 of this year, highly-regarded prospect Felix Verdejo suffered a shocking upset loss at the hands of Antonio Lozada Jr. in New York. Verdejo, an accomplished amateur from Puerto Rico who is signed to Top Rank, was looked at by some as the next big star to come from his island.
Instead, the 25-year old found himself in a dog fight with the unheralded Lozada inside of The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Verdejo wasn’t strong enough to keep Lozada off of him and was knocked down by a left hook in the 10th round and saw the contest waved off moments later after he was having trouble defending himself.
Just like that, much of the hype surrounding the previously-undefeated fighter went up in smoke as he was left to regroup.
So, what could be next for Verdejo? For one, a new addition to his team, as well-traveled strength and conditioning coach Angel “Memo” Heredia will now be in charge of several aspects of his conditioning regimen.
Heredia spoke exclusively to Hustle Boss over the weekend and informed us how this connection came about.
“These opportunity came [after] I got a call from a few people at Top Rank and I had a little chat with Mr. Bob Arum and he recommended Ricky, who is his trainer, for me to do his conditioning,” Heredia explained.
“And I was very honored for it and now we’ve just got to get everything together,” Heredia added.
The Lozada defeat was a tough one to swallow and in its wake it leaves many unanswered questions about Verdejo’s future. For Heredia, it’s all about getting his fighter focused on the next task at hand.
“It was a tough loss that no one expected, but things happen and, in my opinion, he needed to concentrate more on his conditioning,” said Heredia. “Because his boxing and his strategy is good, but if you don’t have any conditioning, then you can not have a good performance. In my opinion, he just needs to get in good shape, real good conditioning, and the most important thing needs to be focus. Concentrate on his next fight. It will be a great outcome, in my personal opinion.”
Heredia added that he had an offer on the table to work with Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev, who is set to be facing Hughie Fury in a title eliminator on Oct. 27, but opted to oversee Verdejo’s training instead.
“I decided to go to Puerto Rico instead,” said Heredia. “I had already given my word to Bob Arum and Verdejo’s team, and Ricky, who is his boxing coach. I didn’t want to leave him hanging. I like to stick to my word.”
Heredia added that he expects to be in Puerto Rico until November, for Verdejo’s ring return, and that he will be working with a few other prospects on the island. Stay tuned for more details.
Chris Robinson can be reached at CRobinson@hustleboss.com