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Top Rank won't rush prospect Felix Verdejo into the deep end

Although many would like to see how lightweight super-prospect Felix Verdejo would fare against the world's elite right now, Top Rank says they'll continue to develop the 22-year-old slowly.

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Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

There's a lot to be excited about with Puerto Rican prospect Felix Verdejo (19-0, 14 KOs). At the tender age of 22 he's already supremely talented, putting on exciting performances while flashing the good looks that scream "superstar in the making." It also doesn't hurt that his star-potential is drawing numerous comparisons to Felix "Tito" Trinidad. But despite some fans wanting to see Verdejo thrown in deep and get a title shot, Top Rank insists that they're not gown to bend to public pressure and will bring along their prized prospect at pace they feel appropriate.

"Building a fighter is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. You have to know that the minute you sign up for it," said Top Rank president Todd duBoef. "This is Felix Verdejo's stage right now. Globally, he's the next star. It's one thing to be marketable. It's another thing to deliver in the ring. Felix is and does both."

Top Rank does have significant experience in building fighters into star attractions, but with Verdejo's 2015 cut short due to hand injuries (specifically bones spurs which he has surgically removed), they are going to be extra diligent about how the move him forward. So next up for Verdejo will be Brazil's William Silva (23-0, 14 KOs), who despite his unblemished record, has not faced any stellar competition to date. That will change this weekend in New York City on the Crawford-Lundy undercard.

Verdejo, when asked about how his troubled left hand has been feeling as of late, responded by saying:

"No pain. No Problems," Verdejo said. "We have been training fully, but we have worked on a few different types of moves that will not put as much pressure on my hand just to be careful. Lately we have been doing additional work to see how it goes and it has been great."

The truth is, he's said he had no pain or no problem in the hand before, but then the problem resurfaced which caused his originally-scheduled fight against Josenilson Dos Santos to be pushed back for a couple of months. He did end up fighting Dos Santos last December, and that seemed to turn out just fine as far as his hand goes, so his team will continue to hope this issue isn't a chronic one, and that he can go on to have a busy 2016.

In fact, Top Rank already has Verdejo scheduled for a UniMas-televised card less than two months from now, on April 16th in Puerto Rico, should he get through this fight unscathed. If that goes well, he'll make another appearance back at Madison Square Garden on June 11th right in time for the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. So if you don't already get the picture, Top Rank is aiming to get Verdejo maximum exposure early and often.

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