NEW YORK -- Lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo's march toward what seems to be an inevitable world title shot methodically rolled through Willian Silva on Saturday night before a soldout crowd of 5,092 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Verdejo, the 2014 ESPN.com prospect of the year, cruised in a one-sided but dull decision, although he added the rounds under his belt that promoter Top Rank wants him to get as he matures. In the end, it was an easy fight to score: 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91. ESPN.com also had Verdejo winning 100-90.
"I would have loved to get a win by knockout, but the guy moved around a lot and I wasn't able to get him," Verdejo said through a translator. "You have to learn that you can't win every fight by a knockout."
The fight, on the undercard of junior welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford's defense against "Hammerin'" Hank Lundy, was the first of what is expected to be a busy schedule for Verdejo this year -- he could fight at least five times. He is due back to headline an April 16 UniMas-televised card in Puerto Rico, and if all goes well in that bout, he will return to the Theater on June 11, the eve of the annual Puerto Rican Parade in New York. Verdejo is happy to have the hand injury that sidetracked him in 2015 behind him and is excited about fighting often this year.
"I'll be back in the gym in a couple of days to get ready," he said.
Verdejo, a 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian, won for the second time since a 10-round rout of Ivan Najera last June at the Theater, in which he injured his left hand and had to have subsequent surgery to remove bone spurs. It cost Verdejo six months on the shelf and he fought only three times in 2015, although he returned in December to crush Josenilson Dos Santos in two rounds in San Juan.
The 22-year-old Verdejo (20-0, 14 KOs) fought at a measured pace but kept a jab in Silva's face and landed some solid left hooks that didn't do much damage but seemed to keep Silva shy about returning anything meaningful. Verdejo picked up the pace here and there, but he was winning so handily that he never seemed to truly exert himself. He backed up Silva (23-1, 14 KOs), 28, of Brazil, with a right hand and left hook in the fifth round and later in the round wobbled him with a hook.
It was not an exciting fight, but Verdejo cruised easily round after round while Silva never appeared to have any sense of urgency whatsoever, even though it was clear he was losing. According to CompuBox punch statistics, Verdejo landed 106 of 421 punches (25 percent) while Silva connected on just 45 of 325 punches (14 percent).
The restless crowd, filled with Verdejo fans, began to boo the lack of action in the seventh round. The fighters opened up against each other late in the 10th round, which finally brought the crowd to life.
Monaghan knocks out Forsman
Long Beach, New York, light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan (27-0, 17 KOs), 34, possibly on the verge of a world title opportunity, knocked out Janne Forsman (21-4, 13 KOs), 33, of Finland, in the fifth round of an action fight, thrilling many in the crowd who came to see him.
Monaghan poured it on late in the fourth round as he and Forsman traded toe to toe. But Monaghan got the better of the action as he pounded Forsman with head and body shots. A right hand to the body finally dropped Forsman to a knee. He beat the count as the round ended.
In the fifth round, Monaghan, who was winning via shutout on all three scorecards, picked up where he left off, battering Forsman until referee Allan Huggins stepped in and stopped the bout at 1 minute, 34 seconds.
Top Rank hopes to secure a world title shot for Monaghan soon. According to the company, it has received an offer from Main Events for Monaghan to challenge unified titleholder Sergey Kovalev in Russia this summer, although Top Rank would much prefer to match Monaghan with secondary titlist Juergen Braehmer if he wins a March 12 rematch against Eduard Gutknecht in Germany.
Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com that when officials from Braehmer promoter Team Sauerland come to Las Vegas for super middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham's defense against Top Rank fighter Gilberto Ramirez on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley III undercard on April 9, they plan to meet to discuss the fight.
Junior welterweight prospect Julian Rodriguez (11-0, 9 KOs), a 21-year-old from Hasbrouck Heights, beat up on King Daluz (12-2-2, 2 KOs), of Spain, en route to a one-sided, eight-round decision win. Rodriguez opened a nasty cut around Daluz's right eye in the fourth round and dropped him to a knee with a clean left uppercut just before the seventh round ended. In the end, the judges all scored in favor of Rodriguez: 80-71, 80-71 and 79-72.
Puerto Rican featherweight Christopher Diaz (15-0, 10 KOs) scored a brutal fourth-round knockout of the Dominican Republic's Angel Luna (12-2-1, 7 KOs). It was a give-and-take fight before Diaz, the big crowd favorite, hammered Luna with a heavy right hand that sent him staggering into a corner.
Diaz raced toward him and landed three clean punches -- a right hand, a left and another wide-open right -- as Luna, already out, was defenseless and being held up by the corner post. Referee David Fields, a bit late with the stoppage, called it off at 2 minutes, 42 seconds as medical personnel raced into the ring to attend to Luna.
Junior welterweight Emanuel Taylor (19-3, 12 KOs), of Baltimore, dominated before knocking out Nicaragua's Wilfredo Acuna (15-19, 11 KOs) in the sixth round. Taylor put together a combination late in the sixth round before driving Acuna to the mat with a right hand. Referee Fields counted him out at 2 minutes, 59 seconds, as Acuna's corner was throwing in the towel.
Puerto Rican junior welterweight Jean Carlos Torres (4-0, 3 KOs) outclassed Miguel Gloria (1-2, 0 KOs), of Albuquerque, New Mexico, dropping him three times en route to a one-sided knockout 20 seconds into the third round.
Another undercard bout, Washington, D.C. junior welterweight prospect Michael Reed (17-0, 10 KOs) against Mexico's Marco Antonio Lopez (23-8, 14 KOs), was canceled at Friday's weigh-in because the New York State Athletic Commission would not license Lopez after he had an issue with his pre-fight blood test.