Life and boxing are often seen and reduced to a zero sum game. If someone goes up, someone must also being going south. One wins and one must necessarily lose.
That is simple logic, and the POV of a certain kind of brain. The current President seems to see life this way, reduce almost every political act to a “I must win, someone must lose” equation.
On Tuesday, I chatted with Teofimo Lopez, the 20 year old Brooklyn born lightweight who jumped to 10-0 in stopping 25-1 William Silva on July 14. Towards the end of the back and forth on “Talkbox,” we touched on the subject of Felix Verdejo.
For those that have just started following boxing, Felix was Top Rank’s golden boy a couple years back. Miguel Cotto’s star shine had dimmed and this kid was being slotted into the Cotto spot. He’d headline Puerto Rican Day Parade gigs in NYC for ten years, and with his gleaming smile, if he could fight more than a bit, his personality could make him a star whose shine eclipsed Cottos.’
Hasn’t turned out that way and it’s looking like it won’t. Of course, Verdejo is “only” 25. But his progress stopped, it looked like, a couple years ago, and while he was being graced with prime time slots, he wasn’t wowing the masses with his efforts. He’ll need to hit the reset button and work hard to get back on a favorable track.
In his last outing, he went off the rails, arguably. Against Antonio Lozada Jr at Madison Square Garden’s Theater in March, the ref halted the bout in the final round, as a hurt and fatigued Verdejo was a drowning man.
I saw heads shaking and heard muttering from seasoned fight folks.
He doesn’t care enough, was one refrain.
He was offered so much and gave not enough effort in return, it was said.
And on social media, the knives came out. Kid is a bum and I knew it from way back, was a regular post.
Interesting stuff; it’s almost like everyone had a vested interest in the boxer. Now, some did. Top Rank invested mucho moolah into his development, time and energy galore. So, this being a business I get it that over there, some frustration would be felt. Some of the gleeful ire in other quarters could be chalked up to shadenfreude, that feeling of joy derived from the failings of others. It’s not a sweet trait in humans but it is prevalent and should be acknowledged.
The Verdejo subject and how people view the 23-1 boxer, the once (and no longer future?) fighting pride of Puerto Rico came up when I talked with Lopez.
Lopez playfully jabbed at me for being a softee, in saying that it seems too many people take pleasure in Verdejo’s failing.
“You don’t gotta be sweet, Woods,” Lopez cracked at me. (Listen to the whole interview here.)
So, talk to me about Verdejo.
“He’s making me look good…oh, that sounded so cocky! I’m sorry Mr. Woods,” he said, chuckling.
No, he doesn’t wish some of the Verdejo shine from the last couple years had been aimed at him. “He’s making me look good, because now I’m Top Rank’s prodigy, or best prospect who they have right now. Thanks to Verdejo, he’s made me look good!…He had it, but he lost it.”
Does Lopez wish for Verdejo to re-gain some spark and shine?
“Put him in front of me and I beat him, that’s how I’m always going to look at it,” Lopez said. “That’s how I’m always going to look at it.”