*NEW YORK (March 6, 2018)* — After more than 13 months away from the
‘El Diamante’ VERDEJO* makes his long-awaited return on *March 17* at the* Hulu
Theater at Madison Square Garden*. Verdejo (23-0, 15 KOs), from San Juan,
Puerto Rico, will face Antonio Lozada, Jr. in a 10-round lightweight
special attraction on the undercard of the *St. Patrick’s Day*world title
extravaganza featuring Irish sensation *MICHAEL CONLAN *and the *World
Boxing Council* (WBC) Super Lightweight championship bout between *JOSE
RAMIREZ* and *AMIR ‘Young Master’ IMAM*.
The undercard will include Verdejo, *CHRISTOPHER ‘Pitufo’ DIAZ*, and former
International Boxing Federation (IBF) Junior Lightweight world champion *JOSE
‘Sniper’ PEDRAZA* making his debut under the Top Rank banner.
The Ramirez – Imam world championship event will be televised live and
exclusively at 8 p.m. EST on *ESPN *and stream on the *ESPN App*. The
night’s undercard bouts, including Verdejo, will stream live on the ESPN
App at 5:30 p.m. EST. ESPN Deportes will air the bout on Sunday, March 18
at 8 p.m. EST.
Verdejo, who represented Puerto Rico at the 2012 Olympics, last fought on
February 3, 2017, when he won a 10-round unanimous decision over Oliver
Flores*. *He had been scheduled to fight England’s Terry Flanagan on
November 5, 2016, for the *World Boxing Organization *(WBO) Lightweight
title, but was injured in a motorcycle accident in Puerto Rico three months
Verdejo will be making his sixth appearance at the Hulu Theater at Madison
Square Garden, last fighting there on June 11, 2016, when he knocked out
Juan Jose Martinez in the fifth round. Lozada (38-2, 32 KOs) is riding a
six-bout winning streak dating back to 2013.
“I’m very happy to return to New York with the task of showing the world
that I’m back to retake what is mine,” Verdejo said. “I was hardened by the
tough times we went through after Hurricane Maria, but like my people, I
will rise again stronger than ever. March 17 will be the first step in that
Diaz (22-0, 14 KOs), ranked No. 3 by the WBO at 130 pounds, will defend the
NABO Junior Lightweight belt against Braulio Rodriguez (19-2, 17 KOs) in a
10-rounder as he continues his march toward a world title shot. He last
fought on December 9 as one of the co-features on the Vasiliy Lomachenko
vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux card, stopping Bryant ‘Pee Wee’ Cruz in the third
round. Diaz knocked down Cruz four times, ending the fight with a crisp
right hand. Rodriguez, who has won four of his last five, will be making
his U.S. debut.
“On March 17, the fans can expect a more experienced, more explosive and
more aggressive Pitufo,” Diaz said. “I’m hungry and I want to keep
improving as a fighter. I’m coming to steal the show once again at The
Garden. After March 17, I will be closer to a world title fight.”
Pedraza (22-1, 12 KOs) will face veteran Jose Luis Rodriguez (26-11-1, 14
KOs) in an eight-round lightweight bout. He made two defenses of the IBF
Junior Lightweight title before suffering a knockout defeat at the hands of
Gervonta Davis on January 14, 2017.
“I feel very happy to be fighting for a promotional company like Top Rank.
They want to take my career to the next level and part of that is fighting
in venues like Madison Square Garden,” Pedraza said. “I’m going to give it
my all so fans will enjoy my return to the ring. With Top Rank in my
corner, I will become world champion once again, and I know that I have the
potential to become a superstar.”
Also appearing on the undercard are a pair of exciting, undefeated
prospects: 18-year-old Joseph Adorno (5-0, 5 KOs) will fight Ivan de la
Madrid in a four-round super featherweight bout, while super bantamweight
Jose Gonzalez (8-0-2, 2 KOs) will take on Adan Gonzales in a six-round
rematch of their December 9 fight, which was ruled a majority draw.
Promoted by *Top Rank* and *Don King Productions*, in association with
Madison Square Garden, tickets to the Ramirez-Imam world championship event
are priced at $206, $156, $106, $81, $56 and $31, and can be purchased at
the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets,
Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008 <(866)%20858-0008>), and online