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Felix Verdejo motivated by unbeaten opponent

Unbeaten lightweight Felix Verdejo believes a victory over fellow William Silva on Feb. 27 will lead him one step closer to a title shot. Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Lightweight sensation Felix Verdejo has been perfect so far in his pro career, going unbeaten and looking impressive fight after fight since turning pro in December 2012, following his stint on the Puerto Rican Olympic team.

He is probably still a few fights away from boxing for a world title, but he and promoter Top Rank are in no rush. Verdejo is only 22 and did not have hundreds of amateur fights as so many other Olympians had.

"I don't feel we are rushing Felix Verdejo, but he needs to stay busy," Top Rank president Todd duBoef said Thursday. "We are planning to have Felix fight in Puerto Rico in April, then be back in New York for Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend [in June]."

Before those fights, Verdejo, viewed by many as the heir-apparent in the long line of great Puerto Rican fighters, returns to action on Feb. 27 to face Brazil's William Silva in the 10-round bout that will open an HBO-televised doubleheader (10 p.m. ET/PT). Junior welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs) will make the second defense of his belt against "Hammerin'" Hank Lundy (26-5-1, 13 KOs) in the main event.

Silva (23-0, 14 KOs), whose last fight came on Verdejo's undercard in December, is an unknown fighter with a tremendous record built against opponents most have never heard of. But he's tall -- 6 feet 1 -- and Verdejo manager and trainer Ricky Marquez said that the 5-9 Verdejo has been sparring with taller fighters to get an idea of how gauge his height.

"Felix will have the skills to handle William Silva's height advantage," Marquez said. "Felix has been fighting taller fighters since he was kid and never had any problems. I know Silva. He is a powerful puncher and is dangerous, but the height will not bother Felix."

Verdejo (19-0, 14 KOs), the 2014 ESPN.com prospect of the year, said the fight represents another step toward the world title shot he eventually hopes to secure. So while he is motivated, he said the fact Silva is undefeated adds to that motivation.

"When I fight another undefeated fighter, it is extra motivation for me because I know he has never lost and I want to end that," said Verdejo, who will be facing his fourth unbeaten opponent. "And I want to stay undefeated and give the loss to my opponent."