SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – World Boxing Organization (WBO) awarded the young professional fighters Felix “Diamante” Verdejo, Emmanuel “Manny” Rodriguez and John Karl Sosa, and amateurs Kiria Tapia, Danielito Zorrilla and Henry Lebron, today in the first edition of this event for the Puerto Rican WBO Prospects Right Now, which the WBO will held annually for the promises of this sport in Puerto Rico, as part of the successful program “Kids Drug Free”.
In an event held at the Restaurant El Zipperle, the WBO President, Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, highlighted the career of these prospects in the ring, but also urged them to stay on the right way in their life outside the boxing.
“People ask why OMB does so many activities for children and young people, but it is a mission that we have. We have to do these activities for the benefit of those who allowing us to continue doing these activities, which are the fighters, former world champions, champions, amateurs, professionals, and to help young people to continue forward, but also to be an example to the kids and the society”, Valcarcel said. “We will continue doing this activity from now this very first time, it is institutionalized for ever”.
The WBO Founder President, Luis Batista Salas, emphasized the achievements of the institution in its eagerness to work with children and youth in the World.
All six boxers, professionals Verdejo, Rodriguez and Sosa, and amateurs Tapia, Lebron and Zorrilla received a check for $ 1,000 each, as well as clothing and equipment for training, and also a commemorative plaque.
Verdejo (10-0, 7 KOs), considered one of the top prospects in boxing today, coming off a big win by KO in the first round last Saturday, January 25, in New York, over Lauro Alcantar. The 20 year old junior lightweight is a 2012 London Olympic Games Puerto Rican boxer who made his professional debut in 2012 and in 2013 made eight bouts, wining six by knockout and two by decision.
“I am grateful to the WBO for this humble gift they give us. I’m happy for the accomplishments of my colleagues and this is only the beginning, this is beginning”, Verdejo said.
The super flyweight Rodriguez (8-0, 5 KOs) is a gold medalist at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and silver at the 2010 World Junior Amateur Boxing Championship. He also debuted in 2012 and in 2013 won his five fights, three of them by the KO. The 21 year old Rodriguez beat world title challenger David Quijano in his last fight.
“Thanks to the WBO that made this activity. They has seen the sacrifice we make and we are grateful. This is the first achievement I have in my professional career, but this is the first of many to come and I have a commitment with me and all of you, and with Puerto Rico to move forward”, said Rodriguez.
Sosa (8-0, 6 KOs), a 21 year old junior welterweight, won by KO over Alexis Peña in his last bout last year in Dallas. Sosa debuted in 2012 and last year won his four fights, two by knockout.
“I’m very glad with this Paco and the WBO did for us. And I’m sure we are going to stop this crisis of Puerto Rico did not have world champions. I’m 200% sure, we ar going to stop that and always with the advice of Ivan Calderon, who runs with me on the track”, Sosa said.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rican National Team trainer, Jose “Chicky” Laureano thanked the help that WBO with the amateur boxing saying that “we are so pleased with all of the WBO has been doing with the Amateur Boxing Federation for years and with these young fighters”.
Tapia, who fight at 132 pounds, is the main figure of female boxing in Puerto Rico. She won gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and has won multiple gold medals in international championships.
“I appreciate that the WBO has been recognize our work, and I want to thank Chicky Laureano and the Federation. I’m happy for the gift you are giving us and we will continue training hard to put on top the name of our country”, said Tapia.
Zorrilla, a 140 pounds fighter, was the Puerto Rico National Champion in 2012 and won a gold medals in the International Olympic Cup and the International José “Cheo” Aponte Tournament, also won bronze at the Pan American Championships in Chile and participated at the Elite World Championship in Kazakhstan.
“Thanks for this activity, thanks to the Puerto Rico Boxing Federation for their help, thanks to them I am here. I’m very grateful”, Zorrilla said.
Lebron is a youth who fight at 123 pounds and was the Puerto Rico National Champion in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He won a gold medal at the Pan American Junior Championships in Ecuador and bronze at the World Junior Boxing Championships in Ukraine.
“I want to thank the WBO for this tribute has given us, thanks to my family, my mother, my uncle, who is always there for fights, and all the sacrifice they made with me”, Lebron said.
Also in the activity were former world champions Ivan Calderon, Wilfredo Vazquez, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., Alex “El Nene” Sanchez, Alfredo “Salsero” Escalera, Julian Solis, Angel “Cholo” Espada, several professional and amateur boxers, trainers, managers, promoters, referees and judges. And WBO Executive Members, Manuel Marrero Hueca, Luis Perez, Alberto Rodriguez, Jose Izquierdo and Adolfo Flores Monge.