Although Puerto Rican lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo will be making his third appearance at New York's Madison Square Garden when he faces Engelberto Valenzuela on the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto undercard on Saturday, it will be the first time he will fight in the famous venue's main arena.
Not only that, but the 21-year-old Verdejo (12-0, 9 knockouts) fighting the 30-year-old Valenzuela (8-1, 3 KOs) a day before his childhood hero, countryman Felix Trinidad will be inducted into The International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.
Promoted by Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, Verdejo's only two berths at The Garden were in it's Theatre area, each lasting an amazing 21 seconds. In performances which translated into positive discussion in his native Puerto Rico, Verdejo starched Tomi Archambault on Jan. 19, 2013, and Lauro Alcantar this past Jan. 25.
Although Verdejo is an obvious fan of Trinidad's, the legendary fighter is also an advocate of Verdejo, whom he called, "The next 'Tito' Trinidad."
"In Puerto Rico, people are talking a lot about him. He is a good kid and very dedicated to boxing. He has the discipline. His trainer and manager Ricky Marquez is doing a good job with him," said Trinidad to Puerto Rico's El Vocero Newspaper.
"Bob Arum is his promoter. Felix Verdejo has all the potential to become the next 'Tito' Trinidad. He has everything. He is tall and he has a great record. He has a record a lot alike mine when I started boxing. An impressive record. I hope he stays undefeated. He has all the tools to become a solid world champion."
Trinidad's words motivate Verdejo, who is coming off last month's 74-second stoppage of Ivan Zavala.
"I'm very happy and excited. Hearing those words from my childhood idol, Felix 'Tito' Trinidad, is something pretty big for me. He gave Puerto Rico a lot of glory and without him knowing," said Verdejo, who will be after his fourth straight knockout against Valenzuela.
"He taught us how to be humble. All that good advice he gave me, I will always take that with me. He was the one who motivated me to become a boxer and is a big honor to hear him speak like that about me. This motivates me to work even harder to reach all my goals."