Felix Verdejo defeated Manuel Rojas by unanimous decision in a 10-round lightweight bout Saturday night, on the Eleider "Storm" Alvarez-Michael Seals undercard at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
All three judges gave the fight to Verdejo, with scores of 99-91, 97-93 and 98-92. This was Verdejo's first bout after a career-long 273-day layoff.
In many ways this is a fresh start to Verdejo's career. Despite being a veteran of the sport, Verdejo is now under the tutelage of respected trainer Ismael Salas, in hopes of living up to the expectations that were put on Verdejo when he was once considered a blue-chip prospect and a future world titleholder.
But Salas still has plenty of work to do.
At times Verdejo (26-1, 16 KOs), of Puerto Rico, looked tentative as he boxed safely from the outside. At other junctures of the bout, he looked more comfortable as he keyed his attack behind his long left jab. To be fair, Verdejo did look better in the late rounds as he pulled away on the scorecard from the durable Rojas (18-4, 5 KOs), of Dallas, who kept coming forward but never really mounted a consistent attack on Verdejo.
Verdejo, 26, has the right height and reach for a lightweight, and fast hands that have shown power in the past. But in recent years, as the skill level of his opposition has been raised, his shortcomings have become more evident.
The Verdejo-Salas partnership started with a victory, but it's clear there's still a long way to go.
"I give myself a 'C'," Verdejo said of his performance against Rojas. "I want to keep working hard and keep developing because I want to look like an 'A' fighter.
"I have the desire. I have the hunger. I'm going to keep working hard for all the Puerto Ricans and all the Boricuas."
Vargas gets victory by DQ
Devin Vargas won via eighth-round disqualification over Victor Bisbal in a hard-fought heavyweight battle. Referee Mike Ortega called off the fight for excessive low blows by Bisbal at 1:02 of the round.
Both fighters stood toe-to-toe for long stretches of the fight and exchanged hard punches. The fourth round was particular heated as Vargas (22-6, 9 KOs) and Bisbal (23-5, 17 KOs) took turns landing punches.
The action was steady, if not spectacular, but in the end it was Vargas, a fighter for the United States at the 2004 Olympics, who had his hand raised in victory.
Nova TKOs Navarrete
Junior lightweight Abraham "Super" Nova knocked out veteran journeyman Pedro Navarrete in Round 4 in Nova's debut under the Top Rank banner. Nova (18-0, 14 KOs) sent Navarrete (30-25-3, 19 KOs) to the floor with a left hook to the body in the second round and then again in the third with an awkward overhand right that landed on the back of Navarrete's head.
The fight ended in the fourth when a left hook to the head knocked down Navarrete, and the fight was eventually called off 35 seconds into the round.
Guzman beats Hernandez
Former IBF junior featherweight titleholder Johnathan Guzman stopped Rodolfo Hernandez in three fast-paced rounds of a very entertaining bout.
Guzman (24-1, 23 KOs) floored Hernandez twice in the first round with left hooks to the body, but Hernandez (30-10-1, 28 KOs) struck back in the second by scoring his own knockdown with a right hand that landed right on the chin, which left Guzman dazed and wobbly even after he got back to his feet.
Guzman was able to regain control of the fight in the third and finished Hernandez with another left hook to the body that sent Hernandez to his knees, where he was eventually counted out by referee Charlie Fitch.
Diaz dominates Dos Santos
Christopher Diaz got back on the winning side by clearly outworking Adeilson Dos Santos in an eight-round junior lightweight contest.
Diaz (25-2, 16 KOs), who lost to Shakur Stevenson in April, steadily built up his work rate as the fight went on, hurting Dos Santos (19-8, 15 KOs) in the fourth with an overhand right and then buzzing him again in the fifth. In the late rounds, Diaz dug to the body with both hands. All three judges had Diaz winning by the score of 80-72.
Anderson stops Satterfield in Round 1
Heavyweight Jared Anderson made quick work of Andrew Satterfield in the opening bout, stopping the journeyman in the first round.
Anderson (3-0, 3 KOs) hit Satterfield (5-4, 3 KOs) with everything he threw from a southpaw stance. Anderson scored two quick knockdowns and the fight was waved off after Satterfield's second trip to the canvas at 2:30 of the round.