Top Rank hs adds a fight between lightweight contender Felix ‘El Diamante’ Verdejo and Masayoshi Nakatani to the co-feature spot on their December 12th card on ESPN in place of the canceled Miguel Berchelt vs. Oscar Valdez fight.
The talented 2012 Olympian Verdejo (27-1, 17 KOs) is trying to turn his career around after suffering a 10th round knockout loss to journeyman Antonio Lozado Torres two years ago in 2018.
Verdejo, who used to be compared to Felix Trinidad earlier in his career, has won his last four contests against pedestrian level opposition picked out for him. He beat Bryan Vazquez by a 10-round unanimous decision in 2019, but that guy is a million miles away from the elite at 135.
Top Rank needs to figure out what to do with Verdejo if he struggles and gets beaten against the 31-year-old Nakatani.
It’s not just Verdejo’s loss to Torres that has sent warning signals that he lacks the talent to be a major player at 135. Verdejo had been looking bad in many of his fights, and it was clear a long time ago that he’s not the fighter that some boxing fans thought he would be when he turned pro eight long years ago in 2012.
If Verdejo doesn’t look good against Nakatani, it would be a good time for Top Rank to make a clean break with him and cut him loose. With the belt-tightening that’s going on in boxing due to the pandemic, Verdejo might be excess baggage that needs to b cut adrift as part of Top Rank getting lean.
It would have been better for Top Rank to have matched Verdejo against someone with some power so they could get a final look and make a decision on whether it’s worth it to keep the 2012 Olympian around any longer.
Verdejo should have been matched against one of these fighters:
- Richard Commey
- George Kambosos, Jr.
- Yuriorkis Gamboa
If Verdejo could beat those types of contenders, he’d be worth keeping around, but if not, it would be time for Top Rank to consider letting him go. Top Rank needs to focus on fighters that have a future, not guys that aren’t capable of taking their careers to the next level.
Nakatani (18-1, 12 KOs) lost his last fight against Teofimo Lopez by a 12 round decision last year, but he gave him a lot of trouble. In fact, Nakatani was easily the toughest fight of Teofimo’s career thus far.
WBA super featherweight champion Berchelt is now off the card after coming up positive for the dreaded COVID-19, and that leaves a big hole in Top Rank’s schedule.
Top Rank still plans to fill the main event, but it won’t be with the Verdejo vs. Nakatani fight. Shakur Stevenson has already volunteered to step in and face Oscar Valdez, but he doesn’t appear to be too hopeful that he’ll be given the green light to take that fight. Valdez is too valuable to get wrecked by Stevenson.