Top Rank’s July 16 ESPN card was supposed to be arguably its best on the schedule, with an original main event between light heavyweight contenders Eleider Alvarez and Joe Smith Jr meant to headline.
But Alvarez came up injured, and though they’re hoping to get that fight rescheduled for August, it leaves Top Rank with a Thursday night to fill. ESPN.com reports that lightweight Felix Verdejo and featherweight Miguel Marriaga will be part of the card in separate bouts, with opponents not named.
Now 27, Verdejo (26-1, 16 KO) was hyped as the next great Puerto Rican star for the sport when he came out of the 2012 Olympics, where he lost to Vasiliy Lomachenko in the quarterfinals but gave the Ukrainian superstar as tough a fight as anyone did, really. He was 19 years old and the sky was thought to be the limit, there was talk of him being the fighter to follow in the recent footsteps of Miguel Cotto and Felix Trinidad.
But it just hasn’t happened. He’s never quite been as impressive as the expectations, even when he wins, and has had some issues outside the ring in terms of staying focused and having that drive to live up to the hype, plus a motorcycle accident in 2016. He suffered an upset loss to Antonio Lozada in 2018, and while he’s won three straight since, he’s been more workmanlike than “future star” in his performances — and at any rate, at his age, the future is now.
The 33-year-old Marriaga (29-3, 25 KO) is a fringe contender at 126, a good puncher and game but limited, suffering clear losses to Nicholas Walters, Oscar Valdez, and Vasiliy Lomachenko in three world title bouts, the latter coming at 130 pounds. He was set to challenge Shakur Stevenson on Mar. 14, but that was the weekend everything shut down due to coronavirus.
Andrew Cancio has been reported for this card before, but may or may not still be set for it, as his return (and Top Rank debut) could be bumped to a different date.