Aston Palicte vs. Jose Martinez: WBO Jr. Bantamweight World Title Eliminator

LAS VEGAS (December 20, 2019) – Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions and Miguel Cotto Promotions will co-promote a potential early candidate for the 2019 Fight of the Year, when world title challenger “Mighty” Aston Palicte (24-2-1, 20 KOs) takes on unbeaten Jose “Chiquiro” Martinez (20-0-2, 13 KOs) in a World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior bantamweight title eliminator on Thursday, January 31, at Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine, California.

Palicte vs.Martinez will headline a soon-to-be-announced card in the 12-round main event, held on the Thursday night of Super Bowl week, in the Oak Ballroom. Viejas Casino & Resort is located 35 miles outside of San Diego.

The winner of the Palicte vs. Martinez title eliminator will become the mandatory challenger for the winner of the New Year’s Eve match in China for the vacant WBO Junior Bantamweight World Championship, between No. 1 contender Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23 KOs) and No. 3-rated Kazuito Ioka (23-1, 13 KOs).

Palicte and Martinez will continue a Philippines-Puerto Rico boxing rivalry that dates back many years, perhaps, highlighted by the 2009 showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, in which the fabulous Filipino defeated the Puerto Rican warrior by way of a 12th round technical knockout. It marks the first time Jones and Cotto, two of the greatest boxers of all-time, will be in opposite corners, in terms of competing fighters they promote, respectively, Palicte and Martinez.

“Having our new partnership with Viejas Casino & Resort allows us to host these great fights,” Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions CEO/Co-founder Keith Veltre remarked. “Having a Roy Jones Jr. and Miguel Cotto fighter face-off makes this fight even more exciting. 2019 is going to be the biggest and most active year for RJJ Boxing.”

“This is the type of fight that changes your career,” Hall of Famer/promoterCotto said. “We know ‘Chiquiro’ Martinez is ready for the challenge and it will be an exciting fight. Promoting this fight, together with Roy Jones, Jr., will be great for boxing. We really look forward to start 2019 with a great fight like Martinez vs. Palicte.”

“All of us at Viejas are excited to be working with Roy Jones, Jr. and look forward to this amazing event,” added Jimmy Wild, GM Viejas Casino & Resort.

Palicte (WBO No. 2) heads the latest wave of world-class Filipino boxers, who is coming off a controversial 12-round split draw with his fellow countryman, 3-division world champion Nietes, for the vacant WBO Junior bantamweight title this past September in Inglewood, California. Many at ringside felt that Palicte should have won the Filipino showdown, based on his relentless pressure and considerably higher activity rate, throwing 300-plus more punches than Nietes.

Palicte is also ranked No. 9 in independent world ratings by The Ring magazine.

Martinez (WBO No, 4), who captured the vacant WBO North American Boxing Organization (NABO) Championship on November 16, 2017, knocking out Jesus Martinez (23-2-1, 11 KOs) in Cancun Mexico, has also held the World Boxing Council Latino and WBC USNBC Silver crowns.

“I want to thank God for this great opportunity,” Martinez commented. “Thank you, Miguel Cotto and the WBO. I feel excited because this is the most important fight of my career with a high-level boxer as Palicte. I will train really hard to be in the best condition. We are really focusing on getting the big win on January 31st.”

Priced at $65.00, $55.00 and $45.00, tickets go on sale t

BN-IX351_nyboxi_J_20150614151119Ivan ‘Bam Bam‘ Najera, left, is pinned against the ropes by Felix Verdejo. Verdejo won the bout by unanimous decision. PHOTO: MIKEY WILLIAMS FOR TOP RANK BOXING

By Jim Chairusmi –

Miguel Cotto has been entrenched as the most popular Puerto Rican boxer for the past decade. But he might have some competition for that title. Felix Verdejo is quickly emerging as the sport’s next big star.

At the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, Verdejo (18-0, 13 knockouts) outslugged Ivan Najera (16-1, 8 knockouts) to earn a 10-round unanimous decision. The 22-year-old from San Juan dominated the bout, knocking down the previously undefeated Najera in the fifth and seventh round.

“With right hands to the head, left hooks right down the middle, right uppercuts, overhand rights on the chin, left uppercuts up the middle, the kid showed a powerful arsenal,” HBO analyst Roy Jones Jr. said on the television broadcast of the bout. “He showed every kind of punch you could think of.”

About an hour after the bout, Verdejo answered questions from reporters in Spanish, with an English translator at his side. He expressed satisfaction “with the work we did.”

Over the past decade, Cotto had been a headliner for a Top Rank boxing card at the Garden on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day parade, including championship bouts in New York against Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah and Joshua Clottey. But with Cotto now signed with Roc Nation Sports, Top Rank is hopeful that Verdejo can fill the void.

“With skill, personality and ring management, he brings a new dimension to the sport,” Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum said.

On Saturday, Verdejo connected with 194 of 487 punches (40%), compared with 101 of 333 (30%) for Najera. But it was the power shots where Verdejo made the most impact, connecting on 138 of 271 (51%) of his power punches, compared with 90 of 232 (39%) for Najera. Two judges scored the bout a 100-88 shutout for Verdejo, while another judge had it 99-89.

“Verdejo’s charisma is outstanding and his ability in the ring is outstanding,” said Top Rank president Todd DuBoef. “You’re probably going to see in the next 12 months that he’ll make a run for the title.”

Verdejo has also drawn comparisons to another legendary fighter from Puerto Rico: Felix “Tito” Trinidad. “Verdejo is very reminiscent of Trinidad,” DuBoef said. “You don’t yet know on the power, but Verdejo has some incredible assets. You want to see him take each step and make sure he is developed correctly.”

Besides sharing the same first name, Verdejo is flattered by the comparison to Trinidad, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014. “It’s an honor to be compared with a star like Tito, someone who gave so much happiness to my country,” he said.

The only thing that didn’t go Verdejo’s way this weekend: he aggravated a left-hand injury that he had initially suffered in December. Verdejo said his hand “was not 100 %” against Najera and that he would see a hand specialist in the coming days.

But before that, Verdejo brighten when he was asked after Saturday’s bout about being featured on a float in Sunday’s parade. “He understood that question,” his English translator said with a laugh as Verdejo nodded and flashed a smile.