Puerto Rican lightweight Felix Verdejo, the 2014 ESPN.com prospect of the year, will face Mexico's Juan Jose Martinez on June 11 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
It's a key fight for Verdejo, who will be fighting on the eve of the annual Puerto Rican Day parade in New York and looking to get back to his devastating ways after two less-than-stellar decision wins in a row against William Silva in February and Jose Luis Rodriguez on April 16.
Verdejo-Martinez will serve as the HBO-televised co-feature on the card headlined by the previously announced fight between featherweight world titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs), the two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist who is moving up in weight, against Puerto Rico's Roman "Rocky" Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) for his junior lightweight world title.
A news conference to kick off the promotion is scheduled for Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Top Rank had hoped to match the 22-year-old Verdejo (21-0, 14 KOs) with fringe contender Jose Felix Jr. (33-1-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico, but the company made a deal with Martinez instead when, according to Moretti, Felix asked for about four times the money available for Verdejo's opponent.
Moretti said there was no such issue finalizing the deal with Martinez.
"Did the deal with Oswaldo Kuchle, his promoter, who didn't hesitate one bit in accepting the fight knowing and feeling Felix is extremely vulnerable based on his last two performances," Moretti said. "They're right. Felix needs to be 100 percent physically and, more important, mentally, especially on this date in New York City.
"Felix and his team know that. Let's see what happens June 11. We certainly know Martinez will be more than ready."
Juan Jose Martinez (25-2, 17 KOs), 29, of Mexico, has won six fights in a row since a seventh-round technical decision loss to Rey Bautista a junior lightweight bout in September 2014 in the United Arab Emirates.