Puerto Rican lightweight Felix Verdejo, the 2014 ESPN.com prospect of the year, will have to wait a bit longer for his 2015 debut.
Verdejo, a 2012 Olympian, was due to face Mexico's Marco Antonio Lopez (24-5, 15 KOs) on Feb. 28 in a scheduled eight-rounder in the main event of a UniMas-televised card in Tampa, Florida. However, the 21-year-old Verdejo (16-0, 12 KOs) suffered a left hand injury training for the fight and he withdrew on Tuesday.
"Hand injuries are unfortunately part of the temporary roadblocks that all fighters suffer regardless of their level," Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said. "Felix is no different in that aspect. We hope to reschedule him as soon as his injury is properly healed."
Top Rank said that an MRI showed Verdejo has swelling of the metacarpal tendon in his left hand. There are no fractures or tears, but Verdejo will lay off using his left hand for about a month.
"I was very happy because I was going to fight for the first time in Tampa, and I know that a lot of people want to see me fight there," Verdejo said. "I'll still be in Tampa on Feb. 28 to support my teammates [Christopher Diaz and Francisco Vargas], who will be fighting on the card."
The card will be held at The Corral in the Sun Dome at the University of South Florida.
"I know that I'll be fighting in Tampa this year, if God permits it," Verdejo said.
Said Ricky Marquez, Verdejo's trainer and manager, "Unfortunately, this unexpected situation happened and we decided to take all the precautions necessary to avoid future injuries."
Top Rank said the card would go on with 20-year-old junior welterweight prospect Julian Rodriguez (8-0, 7 KOs), of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, moving from the co-feature to the main event for his fight with Raul Tovar (14-8-1, 4 KOs). Middleweight Esquiva Falcao (6-0, 4 KOs), a 2012 Brazilian Olympic silver medalist, also will be featured on the card in a six-round bout against Mike Tufariello (4-1-1, 4 KOs) of Dallas.