Felix Verdejo’s tepid climb through the lightweight ranks may soon get a much-needed kick in the rear, as he has been named the mandatory challenger for Terry Flanagan’s WBO lightweight title.
Verdejo (22-0, 15 KO), pegged as the next great hope for Puerto Rican boxing, has been in desperate need of a step up for quite a while, although mediocre performances against mediocre competition likely left his handlers gun-shy. He did at least manage to break a two-decision streak last month with a six-round thumping of Juan Jose Martinez, but Flanagan (31-0, 12 KO), who defeated Mzoke Fana two weeks ago in his third title defense, represents the kind of foe fans and analysts have been waiting for "Diamante" to face for what feels like ages.
Don’t get your hopes up too high, however; Flanagan promoter Frank Warren states in the above interview that he’d prefer "Turbo" face WBC champion Dejan Zlaticanin, a rather more reasonable opponent than most managers angle for when looking to avoid a mandatory. Zlaticanin (22-0, 15 KO) was set to challenge Jorge Linares for the title earlier this year, but wound up thrashing Franklin Mamani instead when Linares pulled out due to injury and was named Champion-in-Recess.
Warren also expresses an interest in pitting Flanagan against Vasyl Lomachenko when and if the former amateur legend makes the move to lightweight. He certainly has confidence in his charge’s abilities.