TERRY FLANAGAN will defend his WBO world lightweight title against mandatory challenger Felix Verdejo in his hometown of Manchester in September.
‘Turbo’ was slated to defend against the unbeaten Puerto Rican last year on Manny Pacquiao’s undercard, but the fight was postponed when Verdejo was injured in a motorcycle accident.
Terms have now been agreed for the pair to meet in the new season – with September 16 pencilled in as a potential date – and Flanagan, 28, is looking forward to making the sixth defence of his crown.
“I’ve watched him for a couple of years now. I remember when he fought [Vasyl] Lomachenko in the Olympics and he was in a close fight with him, so I’ve seen a lot of him,” he told Boxing News.
“His last couple of performances haven’t been great but neither have mine if I’m honest. I think it’s a great fight, we’ll both bring the best out of each other. He’s a great fighter.”
Verdejo, 24, returned from injury in February when he outpointed Oliver Flores over 10 rounds. ‘El Diamante’ has not yet fought in a scheduled 12-rounder, but has been highly-touted ever since he turned professional with Top Rank in 2012.
In May, a terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena – where Flanagan has fought numerous times – left 22 people dead and more than 200 injured.
Appalled by the incident, Terry hopes that the venue reopens in time for his next fight so that he can be one of the first to fight in it.
“I always said, once it happened, that – as long as the Manchester Arena opens around September – I want to be the first person to be back there. It would mean a lot to fight there but whether it’s there or somewhere else, it means a lot to top another big bill in Manchester once again,” he said.
Unbeaten in 33 fights, Flanagan holds the longest undefeated run in British boxing at the moment and hopes a win over another dangerous opponent launches him into bigger fights.
“It’s a 50-50 fight. People will pick holes after I win and say this and that but at the end of the day he’s a good fighter, he’s highly-rated, he’s undefeated, got a high knockout ratio. It’s going to be an exciting fight,” he said.
“Obviously I want those unification fights, but we’ve got to focus on this one and make sure I do my job.”