Puerto Rican lightweight Felix Verdejo outpointed former two-time interim junior lightweight titlist Bryan Vasquez in the pay-per-view opener to Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Verdejo (25-1, 16 KO's), 25, a 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian, won on scores of 98-92, 97-93, and 97-93. This is Verdejo's second consecutive victory since getting dropped and stopped in a 10-round defeat at the hands of Ines Antonio Lozada Torres in a huge upset in March 2018.
"It was an honor for me to get a big victory in front of my fans at Madison Square Garden," Verdejo said. "I defeated a great fighter in Vasquez. I worked hard for this fight. The jab and body punches were key."
Verdejo's jab was very precise and Vasquez (37-4, 20 KO's), who hails from Costa Rica, struggled to get going offensively, though Verdejo did suffer a cut under his left eye in the fourth round.
Verdejo dominated the fifth round. He connected on a strong right hand to the head and forced Vasquez to the ropes, where he made Vasquez pay with a series of combinations to the head and to the body.
Verdejo appeared tired in the seventh round, but came back strong in the ninth round, as he found success consistently with his overhand right.
Verdejo was fighting for just the fourth time following a motorcycle accident in 2016 that left him with a head injury and small lacerations. However, even before the crash, Verdejo was criticized for his lack of commitment to boxing. Now with newfound motivation, he hopes to return to the ring the next time around for a shot at world title glory.
"I'm going to keep working harder and harder to get even better," Verdejo said. "I am looking for a world title opportunity soon."