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Weights: Martinez 129.8, Lomachenko 129.6

By Dan Ambrose: WBO super featherweight champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) made weight on Friday in coming in at 129.8 pounds at his weigh-in for his title defense against featherweight Vasyl Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) this Saturday night on HBO Boxing After Dark [BAD] at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Lomachenko, 28, weighed in at 129.6lbs. He’s seen as the favorite to defeat the 33-year-old Martinez in the eyes of many boxing fans. It’s to see why. Lomachenko has looked good in his recent fights in beating his last four opponents Romulo Koasicha, Gamalier Rodriguez, Chonalatum Piriyapinyo and Gary Russell Jr.

It’s been an improvement in Lomachenko’s game since his loss to Orlando Salido in 2014. For his part, Martinez has had two back to back grueling fights against Salido, both of which he could/should have lost. The only reason Martinez didn’t lose the first fight against Salido was because he knocked him down in rounds three and five.

Salido was also deducted a point in the 11th. However, Salido was the better fighter in the majority of the rounds, as we arguably was in their second fight in September of 2015. That fight was scored a 12 round despite Salido dominating three-fourths of the contest in the minds of many fight fans. But what’s more important than the decisions in those two fights is the terrible punishment Martinez took from Salido.

Martinez was hit many times in those fights, and it’s questionable whether he’ll have enough left for Saturday’s fight to give Lomachenko any problems. A fight of this kind of arguably too soon for Martinez after the back to back beatings he took from Salido.

In weights for the co-feature bout, WBO Latino lightweight champion Felix Verdejo (21-0, 14 KOs) weighed in at 134.8 pounds for his scheduled 10 round defense against 2nd tier fighter Juan Jose Martinez (25-2, 17 KOs). Martinez weighed in at 133.8lbs.

This is not a good fight on paper, and it’s probably a step down for the 23-year-old Verdejo from his fight against William Silva last February. Verdejo struggled in that fight against Sliva, and looked poor throughout. It was a fight that exposed Verdejo in some ways as a fighter that is not as good as many people thought he was going into that contest. Verdejo’s promoters at Top Rank have backed off with him since that fight in putting him in with a soft opponent Jose Luis Rodriguez last April, and now putting him in against another easy fight against Juan Jose Martinez.

Verdejo should have an easy time destroying the over-matched Martinez. Top Rank has found an easy mark for Verdejo to shine against. This is soft match-making at it’s finest. You can’t blame Top Rank for putting Verdejo in with someone so beatable because he really looked terrible in his fight against Silva. That fight showed that Verdejo isn’t the fighter that some people thought he was. You can only hope that he can improve over time, because right now, I think Verdejo might be another Thomas Dulorme type fighter. Dulorme looked even better than Verdejo when he was at the same point in his career. We all know now that after Dulorme was finally moved up against world class fighters, he went to pieces in suffering defeats. Verdejo could be the same type of fighter. From what I saw of Verdejo’s fight against Silva, I think he could very well be Dulorme 2.0. Like Dulorme, Verdejo has good hand speed and power, but something is missing from his game right now for hm to be seen as a truly talented fighter. I think Verdejo will get beaten if Top Rank matches him too tough right now.

It’s unclear when Top Rank will start matching Verdejo tough again. It’s quite possible they’ll wait until he gets a title shot against one of the following champions: Jose Pedraza, Terry Flanagan or Anthony Crolla. Verdejo is ranked #2 WBO, #6 IBF. However, with IBF lightweight champion Rances Barthelemy moving up to light welterweight, it leaves an opening for Verdejo to potentially contest for the IBF title rather than taking a risky fight against WBO belt holder Terry Flanagan.

The start time for the Martinez vs. Lomachenko fight is at 10 pm. ET/PT. Where to see the Martinez-Lomachenko fight is at Madison Square Garden in New York.

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