Verdejo faces Madera in ‘The Bubble’

Once touted as the next Puerto Rican superstar, Felix Verdejo hopes to move back into world title contention when he faces undefeated Will Madera on July 16, on Top Rank’s latest show to be confirmed at ‘The Bubble’ in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas.

Lightweight Verdejo (26-1, 16 KOs) has won three on the spin since a shock loss to Antonio Lozada Jr. in 2018. Now based in Las Vegas under the tutelage of coach Ismael Salas, Verdejo plans to illustrate his improvement and reinvention as a fighter in this latest 10-rounder.

“July 16 marks my return to the ring against Will Madera in what will be my second fight with my new team,” said Verdejo. “This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the progress resulting from my work. I have renewed motivation to realise my dream of becoming a world champion. That is the goal.”

Madera (15-0-3, 8 KOs), from Albany, New York, decisioned the previously undefeated Thomas Mattice in February 2019 and registered a second-round stoppage over Edgar Ramirez in January.

In the co-main event, featherweight Miguel Marriaga continues to build towards a fourth world title shot when he meets Filipino Mark John Yap over 10 rounds.

Colombian Marriaga was scheduled to challenge Shakur Stevenson for the WBO 126lbs title on March 14, but the bout was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The rugged Yap (30-15, 15 KOs) is a 13-year pro and a former OPBF bantamweight title-holder who has not been knocked out since 2014.

“I stayed in shape during the pandemic and I am thankful to my team for this wonderful opportunity,” said Marriaga (29-3, 25 KOs). “I want to be a world champion and a win over Yap will move me one step closer to my ultimate goal. Yap is much better than his record indicates. Neither of us will take a backward step.”

In the US, Marriaga-Yap, Verdejo-Madera and undercard bouts will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on July 16