By Ryan Burton
SAN JUAN, P.R. -- The boxing gem of Puerto Rico, undefeated Top-Five world-rated lightweight contender FELIX "El Diamante" VERDEJO, and former five-division world champion and 2012 Fighter of the Year NONITO “The Filipino Flash” DONAIRE, will headline, in separate title bouts, the year-end finale of MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout on truTV, on Friday, December 11. Verdejo will be making his homecoming a 10-round defense of his World Boxing Organization (WBO) Latino lightweight title against Josenilson Dos Santos and Donaire, who is on the cusp of another world title shot, will be challenging WBO International junior featherweight champion and No. 1 world-rated contender Cesar Juarez in a 12-round rumble.
Both fights will be televised live from Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico on truTV, beginning at 10 :00 p.m. ET/PT. The live boxing series is presented by truTV and Top Rank® and produced in association with HBO Sports®. Find truTV at: http://trutvishere.com/
The four warriors boast a combined record of 95-9 (64 KOs) -- a winning ratio of 91%, with 2/3 of their total victories coming by way of knockout.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Diamante Promotions, tickets to the Verdejo vs. Dos Santos / Donaire vs. Juarez championship event go on sale Today! Priced at $150, $100, $75, $50, $40 and $25, plus applicable charges, tickets can be purchased at www.TicketCenterPR.com
, all Ticket Center outlets or charge by phone at (787) 792-5000.
"Fighting as a headliner at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum and in front of my people is a dream that I have always had since I was a little kid," said Verdejo. "And now, thanks to all the love and support Puerto Rico has given my career, on December 11, I'm going to be able to fulfill that dream. I hope to give all that love back with a big win that unifies my people in a sentiment of happiness and brotherhood."
"My goal is to get back on top. I am refocused for what I must do in the ring," said Donaire. That's why this fight in Puerto Rico is so important for me and my boxing career. I am reading a book called The Power of Habits. It is about getting rid of bad habits and instead using good habits each and every day. It all restarts for me on December 11."
"Fighting in Puerto Rico is our way of giving our people a night of happiness and union," said Ricky Marquez, Verdejo's trainer and manager. "This is the opportunity that Top Rank has given us -- to bring together to this Coliseum, whole families, friends, neighbors. It will be a big Puerto Rican party where we all celebrate Felix's evolution from prospect to contender."
"December 11 promises to deliver a great night of fights with an unbelievable atmosphere for fans both watching at home on truTV and the thousands in attendance at Roberto Clemente Coliseum," said Carl Moretti, Vice President of Top Rank.
Verdejo (18-0, 13 KOs), from San Juan, Puerto Rico, who ended 2014 as a consensus "Prospect of the Year," is looking to conclude this year as a bona fide world title contender. He returns to the ring having won seven of his last nine fights inside the distance, including his first fight of the year, a fifth round knockout of Marco Lopez, on April, 25, for the vacant WBO Latino lightweight title. He successfully defended that title on June 13 at Madison Square Garden during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend, winning a 10-round unanimous decision over previously undefeated contender Ivan Najera of San Antonio, TX. Already world-rated No. 4 by the World Boxing Association (WBA) and No. 5 by the WBO, Verdejo, 22, continues to develop into a major gate attraction, producing standing room only crowds every time he fights. A former amateur standout who represented Puerto Rico in the 2012 Olympics, Verdejo has been mentored by Puerto Rican boxing icon and Hall of Fame inductee Felix Trinidad.
Dos Santos (25-3, 15 KOs), of Sao Paulo, Brasil, is a two-time WBO Latino junior lightweight champion. His first reign began with a 12-round unanimous decision victory over Alejandro Burella in 2008. He successfully defended the title twice in 2009, via a 12-round unanimous decision over David Paredes and a fourth-round knockout of Leandro Almagro. He regained the WBO junior lightweight title in 2012 via a 12-round unanimous decision over Carlos Rodriguez. This will be just the fifth time Dos Santos, 28, has fought outside his native Brasil.
Donaire (35-3, 23 KOs), a native of General Santos City, Philippines, now living in Las Vegas, is a former five-division world champion on the comeback trail for another world title shot. His banner year in 2012 featured four world championship victories which included beating former world champion Israel Vazquez, Jr. to capture the vacant WBO junior featherweight title, unifying the title by defeating IBF junior featherweight champion Jeffrey Mathebula, followed by Donaire collecting his third belt of the year with a knockout of World Boxing Council (WBC) Diamond Belt super bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka, ending Nishioka’s eight-year, 16-bout, winning streak, and concluding his magnificent year by blasting out Mexican icon Jorge Arce in the third round and sealing his 2012 Fighter of the Year honors while extending his 12-year, 30-bout winning streak. He lost his title to undefeated Cuban sensation and WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux in a title unification bout at a sold-out Radio City Music Hall on April 13, 2013. He bounced back in 2014, dethroning World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight world champion Simpiwe Vetyeka at Cotai Arena. Career highlights for Donaire also include knockout victories of world champions Vic Darchinyan, Wladimir Sidorenko, and Fernando Montiel, ending Montiel's 25-bout winning streak. That victory was named the 2011 Knockout of the Year. Donaire returns to the ring having won both his 2015 fights -- capturing the vacant NABF super bantamweight title via a second-round knockout victory of William Prado on March 28 and scoring another second-round knockout win over Anthony Settoul on July 18. Donaire, 32, is currently world-rated No. 2 and No. 5 by the WBO and the WBA, respectively.
Juarez (17-3, 13 KOs), of Mexico City, will be fighting outside Mexico for only the second time. He returns to the ring riding a two-year winning streak which has included victories over Francisco Leal, Octavio Hernandez, Cesar Seda, and in his most recent fight, on July 25, Juan Sanchez, Jr., where he captured the WBO International junior featherweight title via a 12-round unanimous decision. Juarez, 24, is world-rated No. 1 by the WBO.