In life potential doesn't always translate into greatness. Sometimes potential simply remains unfulfilled. The same holds very true in boxing as well. In 2012 Felix Verdejo Jr represented Puerto Rico in the Olympic, and had very good success only to fall short to the current pound for pound king in professional boxing today, Vasyl Lomachenko .
In October 2012, a 19-year-old Verdejo became a professional by joining Top Rank, signing for an undisclosed amount that reportedly included a bonification $600,000 dollars. The expectations for Verdejo couldn't have been higher, as he seemed to show unlimited potential in the ring. There was no greater boxing prospect in the world during that time.
The pride of Puerto Rican boxing fans everywhere saw, Felix Verdejo Jr. as a legitimate future boxing superstar and a contender for the world title for many years. Felix Verdejo who was brilliant the entire year in 2013 easily walking through all of the competition. Felix Verdejo and his fans wanted nothing more than to win a world title.
In January of 2014 the undefeated Puerto Rican prospect, Felix Verdejo displayed great physical conditioning at a public workout in front of a lot of Puerto Rican fight fans and World Press. Verdejo was training and said, "He's ready to return to the ring in the 'The Big Apple'. "Thank God I am very well." Rest clearly helped, Verdejo who was recovering from an injury to his left hand he suffered in his last bout in China back in November of 2013.
That hand injury was the beginning of things starting to change for the young phenom in boxing. While Felix Verdejo Jr would return from his hand injury and continue winning 14 fights in a row from Jan 25, 2014 - Feb 3, 2017. Verdejo was still searching for a major title fight.
On June 12, 2017 Bob Arum (Top Rank) and Frank Warren (Box Nation) were working together to come to an agreement for a fight to take place between Verdejo and undefeated WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan. The fight unfortunately never happened due to Verdejo suffering several injuries in a horrible motorcycle accident which truly changed everything for the young boxing star's career.
After 13 long, painful months of rehab, and inactivity Felix Verdejo Jr. was finally ready to return to the ring at the Madison Square Garden Theater on March 17, 2018. Verdejo who was (23-0) at the time was surprisingly brutally stopped in round 10 by Antonio Lozada Jr. of Mexico.
Verdejo has since returned to the ring winning both his bouts versus Yardley Armenta Cruz of Mexico by KO and recently over boxing veteran Bryan Vasquez of Costa Rica by unanimous decision. Verdejo still doesn't look like the same fighter that had so many fight fans excited.
Can things change for Verdejo? Can the former Olympian return to his past form? Yes. Absolutely! That said the window of true greatness has already past for me. The combination of the high quality of talent in the lightweight division right now. Plus all of the past injuries seem to be just too much to overcome for, Verdejo at this point. I can't see Verdejo being able to beat anyone in the lightweight division top 10 currently. Moving up or down a weight-class isn't the answer either. Maybe a new voice with a change in Verdejo's corner could change things, but ultimately you are what you are.
Is Felix Verdejo Jr. just another fighter that showed amazing superstar potential ? Potential isn't a promise of greatness. I truly hope I'm wrong, but I just don't ever see the once shining star from the boxing crazed island of Puerto Rico ever reaching the level of success, we all so badly wanted for him. What's wrong with Felix Verdejo Jr ? Nothing. Sometimes you are just what you're meant to be. A good fighter. Not a great one. Hopefully I'm wrong. We'll see....
- Sean Hicks