By Dan Ambrose: Unbeaten #1 WBO lightweight contender Felix Verdejo (23-0, 15 KOs) had one of his worst performances of his young five-year pro career last Friday night in winning a very questionable 10 round unanimous decision against unranked Oliver Flores (27-3-2, 17 KOs) at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Flores appeared to do enough to win the fight, but the judges gave the decision win to the Puerto Rican fighter Verdejo by the scores of 99-91, 96-94 and 98-92.
Boxing News 24 scored the fight for Flores by 6 rounds to 4 scores. Verdejo didn’t do nearly enough in many of the rounds to win the fight, especially in the last three rounds of the fight. The southpaw Flores took the fight to Verdejo in rounds 8 through 10 and was hitting him at will.
The boxing fans were booing Verdejo for his lack of effort, as he was supposed to dominate the 27-year-old Flores. This was supposed to have been a mismatch, as Flores had lost his last fight by a 3rd round knockout to former WBA Super World super featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama on December 31, 2015. This wasn’t even a prime version of Uchiyama, and he was still able to blast Flores out in three rounds. Flores was also knocked out in 2 rounds by Miguel Berchelt in 2012.
The win for the 23-year-old Verdejo keeps him as the WBO Latino lightweight champion. This was Verdejo’s first fight since his motorcycle accident last August in San Juan Puerto Rico. It’s unclear whether Verdejo was still feeling the after-effects of that motorcycle accident or what. He should have been able to muster up some offense to make this an easy fight against Flores, but he just couldn’t do it.
Verdejo looked afraid the entire fight and treated the match as a tactical affair with him moving around on the outside all night long trying not to get hit by Flores. It was sad to see because the boxing fans were booing him in every round because he wouldn’t stand his ground and meet the Nicaraguan Flores’ charge. 7,143 boxing fans showed up to see Verdejo fight last Friday night, and I would venture to guess that all of them were disappointed in what they saw from him. There was a complete lack of effort from Verdejo from start to finish.
Boxing News 24 gave Flores rounds 2, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. There was no way to give Verdejo any of those rounds because all he was doing was trying to elude Flores rather than fight him. The contest became really one-sided starting in round 8, as Flores then began to apply tons of pressure as he stocked the timid-looking Verdejo around the ring, hitting him with one left hand after another.
All Verdejo was doing was running from Flores and trying not to get hit. He wasn’t doing a good job of it, as Flores was hitting him nearly as well. The boxing fans at ringside were making a lot of noise. They expected Verdejo to fight back, but he was unwilling to do that. All Verdejo was interested in doing was moving to try and keep from getting hit with Flores’ left hands. He was treating him like a knockout artist.
Flores was able to get the better of Verdejo in rounds 2, 5 and 6 simply by being the one that was coming forward and throwing punches with mean intentions. Verdejo was just running around, throwing jabs, and mostly missing with his shots. Verdejo’s body language appeared to say ‘Don’t hit me. Whatever you do, don’t hit me.’
Verdejo did not want to get hit, and because of that, he wasn’t initiating. He was just moving and throwing defensive-looking jabs while leaning back to keep from getting hit with Flores’ counter left hands. Once Flores realized that Verdejo did not have the heart to do any real fighting, he started to really attack him. Verdejo appeared to squeak by rounds 1, 3, 4 and 7 by landing jabs, but even those rounds were very, very close and could have easily gone the other way in favor of Flores.
Rounds 9 and 10 were especially one-sided rounds with Flores stalking Verdejo around the ring, hitting him left hands to the head that was knocking him off balance. In the 10th, Verdejo grabbed Flores in a headlock and fell to the canvas while still holding onto him. Both fighters hit the ground.
The fact that Verdejo wouldn’t let go while falling said all you needed to know about him. He was desperate to try and escape the punishment, and he wasn’t going to let go of Flores for anything. You can argue that the referee should have scored that as a knockdown for Flores because Verdejo was clearly holding on for dear life to try and escape the never-ending punishment that Flores was dishing out.
With Verdejo’s controversial win over Flores, he’ll now be fighting WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan in his next fight on June 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Flanagan must be licking his chops after seeing how timid and poor Verdejo looked against Flores. Going into last night’s Verdejo-Flores fight, I think a lot of boxing fans would have picked Verdejo to beat Flanagan, but not now. Flanagan has enough offensive skills to do a number on Verdejo and win with ease, even in New York in front of what will likely be a huge pro-Verdejo crowd. Flanagan has enough punching power and skills to beat Verdejo.
Felix Verdejo vs. Oliver Flores Full Fight Video – February 3, 2017
All he needs to do is major sure he pushes the pace early and keep applying pressure on Verdejo the entire fight. Verdejo can’t handle pressure at all. For Verdejo, this is his second poor performance in his last four fights. He also fought really badly in his fight against William Silva in February of last year.
Verdejo won that fight by a 10 round unanimous decision, but it was close and a lot closer than the scores that were handed down by the judges working that fight. They all had it as a one-sided fight. It wasn’t one-sided. That’s the problem. It was close. Verdejo fought timidly, just like he did last night against Flores.
I don’t think Verdejo is ready for a fighter in Flanagan’s class. If Verdejo wasn’t even able to beat a 2nd tier fighter like Flores then he’s definitely not going to be ready to fight a champion in the class of Flanagan.
Top Rank needs to keep Verdejo away from other top lightweights like Robert Easter Jr. and Mikey Garcia because I think both of those guys would beat him. I think Verdejo would have problems against Jorge Linares, Anthony Crolla, Ray Beltran, and Mickey Bey.
Other boxing results on last Friday’s card:
Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz TKO 7 Efrain Esquivias
Jean Carlos Rivera TKO 4 Roberto Rodriguez
Henry Lebron TKO 3 Jesus Feliciano