Automotive giant Dodge and renowned music icon Bad Bunny are among the many entities distancing themselves from Felix Verdejo.
The disgraced boxer has fallen far from grace in the wake of his arrest as the prime suspect in the murder of Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz, with whom he had a years-long affair and who was reportedly one month pregnant with his child. Verdejo surrendered to authorities Sunday evening, after which point his celebrity status continued to dwindle.
Among the key points in linking Verdejo to the heinous crime was video footage obtained by authorities linking his Dodge Durango to the scene of the crime. The arrest complaint filed with the federal court noted the vehicle arriving at the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge overlooking Laguna San Jose where Rodriguez’s lifeless body was discovered by authorities over the weekend after having been missing since April 29.
The SUV was among the many perks enjoyed by Verdejo through a sponsorship with Dodge Puerto Rico, though that relationship has ceased.
“Like all of Puerto Rico, at FCA Caribbean, we are deeply shocked by the death of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz and the situation our Island is going through,” the company announced in a message posted on its verified Facebook page on Monday. “Due to the course of the tragic events that have emerged in the past few hours, we have decided to immediately terminate the business relationship with professional boxer Félix Verdejo.
“Our deepest sense of solidarity and condolences to Keishla's family and friends.”
Bad Bunny (real name Benito Martinez Ocasio) also took action upon learning of the disturbing events that has dominated news outlets in the past few days.
The Grammy-winning music superstar removed a promo video featuring Verdejo for his hit single ¿Quien Tú Eres? (“Who Are You?”) from all online platforms. Bad Bunny has renounced the act while standing in solidarity with Rodriguez, as he remains among the island’s most outspoken critics against the widespread epidemic of femicide and gender-based violence running rampant in Puerto Rico.
The horrific events took place more than four months after Verdejo’s most recent fight, a 9th round knockout loss to Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani last December at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The defeat ended a four-fight win streak for Verdejo, who was being groomed for a lightweight title shot in 2021.
The 27-year-old boxer was signed by Top Rank immediately following the 2012 London Olympics, having advanced to the quarterfinals while representing Puerto Rico. Verdejo has been with Top Rank for the entirety of his pro career dating back to his Dec. 2012 pro debut.
Top Rank has yet to formally release the boxer, though his name and profile no longer exists on the company’s official website. The Las Vegas-based outfit issued a statement prior on Saturday—one day before Verdejo’s arrest and at a point when he was not yet named as a suspect—standing in solidarity with Rodriguez and her family while acknowledging all developments in the case.
Verdejo (27-2, 17KOs) is currently remanded in a federal detention center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. A federal magistrate informed the boxer that he will be held without bail during a hearing held virtually on Monday. Verdejo will be presented during a future hearing with the opportunity to enter a plea to charges of kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death and killing of an unborn child.
The case was taken over by federal agents over the weekend, which puts the death penalty on the table should federal prosecutors choose to pursue the matter as a capital punishment case.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox