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Floyd Mayweather and Ray Rice

Thomas Hauser

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Floyd Mayweather fought a rematch on Saturday night against Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pre-fight tracking suggests that pay-per-view buys were disappointing and, once again, Showtime will lose millions of dollars on a Mayweather event.

But the ring action and pay-per-view numbers aren’t the most important story surrounding Mayweather-Maidana II. Their first fight was contested on May 3, 2014 (four days after Floyd’s foot-in-mouth comments regarding the racist remarks made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling) (http://bit.ly/YLxmqn). Mayweather-Maidana II was intertwined with another important social issue: violence against women.

Over the years, Mayweather has had significant issues with women and the criminal justice system. In 2002, he pled guilty to two counts of domestic violence. In 2004, he was found guilty on two counts of misdemeanor battery for assaulting two women in a Las Vegas night club. Then, on December 21, 2011, again in Las Vegas, Judge Melissa Saragosa sentenced Mayweather to ninety days in the Clark County Detention Center after he pled guilty to a battery domestic violence charge involving Josie Harris (the mother of three of his children) and no contest to two charges of harassment. According to the indictment, the battery domestic violence involved grabbing Harris by the hair, throwing her to the floor, striking her with his fist, and twisting her arm in front of two of the children. The harassment included threatening to kill Harris and her then-boyfriend or make her and the boyfriend “disappear.” Mayweather served 63 days of his ninety-day sentence after receiving 27 days off for good behavior.

More recently, on September 4 of this year, Shantel Jackson (Mayweather’s former fiancée) filed suit against him in California, claiming that Floyd assaulted her shortly after his release from prison. The suit includes causes of action for assault, battery, false imprisonment, harassment, defamation, and the infliction of emotional distress. Jackson reminds some observers of Robin Givens. Her attorney is the equally likable Gloria Allred.

One of the many troubling aspects of Mayweather’s conduct is the manner in which the powers that be have responded to it.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t suspend Mayweather’s license after he pled guilty to battery domestic violence. Judge Saragosa delayed the start of Floyd’s jail term so he could fight Miguel Cotto on May 5, 2012. Golden Boy continued to promote his fights. And World Boxing Council president Jose Sulaiman declared, “Beating a lady is highly critical [but] it is not a major sin or crime.”

HBO (which was televising Mayweather’s fights on HBO-PPV at the time) aired a special in which Michael Eric Dyson (a professor at Georgetown University) interviewed Floyd and compared him with Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as an oppressed black athlete that the system was trying to silence. The comparison with Brown seemed like the most appropriate of the three, given the fact that (despite an impressive record of community service and his status as possibly the greatest football player of all time), Brown once had the unfortunate habit of being physically abusive toward woman and, in one instance, threw a woman off a hotel balcony. But that awkward circumstance went unmentioned, as did the two previous Mayweather convictions involving violence against women.

“Martin Luther King went to jail,” Mayweather told Dyson. “Malcolm X went to jail. Am I guilty? Absolutely not. I took a plea. Sometimes they put us in a no-win situation to where you don’t have no choice but to take a plea. I didn’t want to bring my children to court.”

Dyson then segued to the idea that there was a ”racially-based resentment” against Mayweather and declared, “I think about Jay-Z on Ninety-Nine Problems, when he goes – the cop asks him a question, and he says – ‘Are you mad at me because I’m young, rich, and I’m famous and I’m black. Do you got a problem with that?’”

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Dyson’s interview with Mayweather is another piece of the puzzle in the ongoing cycle of domestic violence against women, particularly in the African-American community. And in the interest of equal time, it should be noted that Showtime (Mayweather’s current home) has also been derelict in its response to Floyd’s conduct toward women.

That brings us to former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

As the world knows, Rice was arrested on February 15 of this year (and later indicted for third-degree aggravated assault) after punching his fiancée (now his wife) and knocking her unconscious in an elevator at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Rice agreed to enter a pre-trial intervention program (which, if satisfactorily completed, would lead to dismissal of the criminal charges against him). On July 24, he was suspended for two games by National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell, who seemed intent on brushing the incident aside. Thereafter, Goodell was widely criticized for the leniency of the punishment. On August 28, he admitted that his response to the occurrence had been inadequate and announced that, henceforth, acts of domestic violence or sexual assault by NFL players or any other league personnel would be met by a six-game suspension with a second offense calling for a minimum suspension of one year.

Then, on September 8, TMZ posted a surveillance-camera video of the punch. Videos do more than confirm that an incident occurred. They have the potential to imprint the gruesome nature of a violent act on the consciousness of the nation. The public was already aware that Rice had punched his fiancée in an elevator. The video made it “real” and ignited a firestorm of outrage. That same day, Rice’s contract was terminated by the Ravens and Goodell announced that Rice had been suspended by the NFL for a minimum of one year.

Then Mayweather had his say. On September 9, Floyd met with reporters after his “grand arrival” at the MGM Grand and was asked about Rice.

“I’m not here to say anything negative about him,” Mayweather answered. “Things happen. You live and you learn. No one is perfect.” Floyd also voiced the opinion, “They had said that they suspended him for two games. Whether they seen the tape or not, I truly believe that a person should stick to their word. If you tell me you’re going to do something, do what you say you’re going to do.”

“Have you seen the video?” a reporter asked.

“Oh, yeah. I seen the video.”

“It’s kind of disturbing,” the reporter pressed.

“I think there’s a lot worse things that go on in other people’s households also,” Mayweather responded. “It’s just not caught on video.”

“I wish Ray Rice nothing but the best,” Mayweather continued. “I know he’s probably going through a lot right now because football is his passion. Football is his love. It’s no different from me being in the fight game. If they told me, ‘Floyd, you got the biggest deal in sports history’ and a couple of months later they say, ‘Your deal is taken away from you.’ Oh, man. It’s not really just the money; it’s the love for the sport.”

Then, further referencing his own history, Mayweather declared, “With my situation, no bumps, no bruises, no nothing. With O.J. and Nicole, you seen pictures. With Chris Brown and Rihanna, you seen pictures. With Ochocinco and Evelyn, you seen pictures. You guys have yet to see any pictures of a battered woman; a woman that claims she was kicked and beat [by me].”

Mayweather’s comments elicited a strong response.

“It’s impossible to hear that and not feel sick to your stomach,” Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated wrote. “The implication is enormous: Other men beat their wives worse, so what’s a woman in an elevator knocked out cold. Mayweather will fight in another casino this weekend. The MGM Grand will host the proceedings. It’s Mayweather plastered on the side of the hotel, his likeness stretching for dozens of stories above a sign that reads ‘Home of the Champion.’ Showtime Pay-Per-View will televise the bout. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be pocketed. It would be shocking if the same network and casino executives who opened their arms to Mayweather – and the money his fights produce – have not condemned Rice this week. Everybody has. But there’s an obvious double-standard involved here, and one highlighted by Mayweather himself, in the one part of his comments that rang true. In Rice’s case, there is a video. In most cases of domestic violence, there is not. The tangible evidence, the way anyone with a television or Internet connection can see Rice load up, swing his left fist, and crumple the woman he wanted to and did marry to the floor, somehow made it more real to the public. But it’s not more real. It’s just more visible, more visceral.”

On September 9, reacting the outrage over his comments (and possibly, their potential to turn off would-be pay-per-view buyers), Mayweather issued a non-apologetic apology.

“If I offended anyone, I apologize,” Mayweather said. “I didn’t mean to offend anyone, and I apologize to the NFL and anyone else that got offended.”

Maybe boxing fans should be thankful that Floyd didn’t wear a Ray Rice jersey into the ring on Saturday night.

To repeat what I’ve written in the past: Somewhere in the United States tonight, a young man who thinks that Floyd Mayweather is a role model will beat up a woman. Maybe she’ll walk away with nothing more than bruises and emotional scars. Maybe he’ll kill her.

                                                                     * * *

And a note on the fight —

Floyd Mayweather showed once again in his rematch against Marcos Maidana that he’s a very good fighter.

Maidana is not what Lennox Lewis used to refer to “a pugilistic specialist.” He’s a brawling straight-ahead fighter who, two years ago, was outboxed for ten out of ten rounds by Devon Alexander. Paulie Malignaggi once observed, “You learn in the first six months in the gym what you need to beat Maidana. After that, it’s just a matter of practicing till you get it right.”

In Mayweather-Maidana I, Marcos fought with passion. This time, he fought like a man who was showing up for a paycheck.

Mayweather is physically stronger than Maidana and far more skilled. On Saturday night, he kept the action in the center of the ring, controlling both distance and tempo. Also, Floyd knows how to take care of himself on the inside. He holds. He’s rough. He uses his forearms and elbows well. And he’s a fifteen-round fighter, who tires less than his opponent as a fight goes on. Marcos seemed to tire early on Saturday night.

The only real drama came in round eight when Mayweather pushed Maidana’s head down in a clinch, jammed his glove into Marcos’s face, and then complained to referee Kenny Bayless that Maidana bit his glove. Two rounds later, Bayless took a point away from Marcos for using his forearm to push Floyd to the canvas in a clinch. That made the judges’ final tally 116-111, 116-111, 115-112 in Floyd’s favor (which was generous to Maidana).

In a post-fight interview, Jim Gray pressed Mayweather about fighting Manny Pacquiao in his next outing. Perhaps that reflected the unhappiness of Les Moonves (president and CEO of CBS Corporation, which owns Showtime) with another multi-million-dollar loss on a Mayweather fight.

Mayweather told Gray that he’s open to the possibility. But for years, Floyd has found reasons not to fight Pacquiao. Most likely, he will continue to do so.

Here, the thoughts of Sugar Ray Leonard are instructive.

“Highly anticipated fights are what made boxing what it was,” Leonard told Steve Kim earlier this year. “When these fights don’t take place, no question, it bothers me. I could not see myself not fighting Tommy Hearns. I could not see myself not fighting Roberto Duran.”

Leonard, it should be noted, came out of retirement to fight Marvin Hagler.

Meanwhile, Mayweather says all the time that he’s his own boss. Virtually every fighter wants to face him because of the money involved, so Floyd can make any fight he wants happen. That’s why the onus is on him if there’s no Mayweather vs. Pacquiao at 147 pounds and no Mayweather vs. Gennady Golovkin at 154.

Floyd is building his legend on YouTube and Twitter. The real greats of boxing – fighters like Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, and the two Sugar Rays (Robinson and Leonard) – fought the toughest available opposition and built their legend in the ring.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book (Reflections: Conversations, Essays, and Other Writings) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: ‘Stitch’ Duran at the Top Rank Gym and More

Arne K. Lang

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Jacob “Stitch” Duran is the most famous cutman in the world. But this past November, when he was working the first of the four Triller shows — the show in Los Angeles anchored by the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr exhibition – Duran realized for the first time that his renown wasn’t confined to the insular world of combat sports.

“Snoop Dogg came up to me and said, ‘man you’re a legend, may I take a picture with you?’ I was shocked. I had no idea that anyone knew me in that world. It was a memorable moment.”

Duran, who turned 70 this month and looks years younger, has had many memorable moments. The night that he plied his trade in London’s Wembley Stadium before 90,000 screaming fans is forever embedded in his memory. But that adventure was bittersweet. He worked the corner of Wladimir Klitschko, with whom he had a 12-year relationship, and that see-saw fight between Klitschko and Anthony Joshua ended with Klitschko on the receiving end of a barrage of punches, forcing the referee to step in and call off the contest in the 11th round.

Duran grew up in Planada, CA, an overwhelmingly Hispanic community where a third of the population lives below the poverty line. Planada is in the agriculturally fertile San Joaquin Valley. Most of the working adults are employed by the farms or in a food-related industry. Duran’s memoir, “From the Fields to the Garden” (as in Madison Square), written with Zac Robinson, was released in 2011 and spawned a sequel.

If there is ever a third book, one chapter will likely be titled “Life in the Bubble.” Duran and Mike Bazzel, and eventually Floyd Mayweather’s associate Bob Ware, were tabbed to be the house cutmen for all of Top Rank’s so-called Bubble Fights, 22 in all, a series that ran from June 23, 2020 to Feb. 20 of this year from the sterile MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

The cutmen and other essential employees were quarantined on the 12th floor of the hotel, departing only for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for the weigh-in. Bazzel, who has a home in the San Francisco Bay Area, never left the hotel. Duran, who lived 20 minutes away, was able to go home between assignments but the better part of his week was still spent in his 12th-floor “crib.”

It was boxing’s version of the “Shawshank Redemption,” says Stitch, referencing the 1994 prison movie starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. “We were literally in solitary confinement.” But he is thankful that Top Rank COO Brad Jacobs called him and offered him the gig. Duran was one of the few people in boxing who was able to stay busy when things slowed to a crawl.

Duran, an Air Force veteran, came to Las Vegas in 1995. During his early years in the city, he prowled the boxing and MMA gyms, looking for work. Nowadays, he doesn’t have to look for work, it seeks him out, but Duran is still an insatiable gym rat of sorts.

Earlier this week he was at the Top Rank Gym which was bustling with activity. Tyson Fury was there being put through his paces by trainer SugarHill Steward, as was Scotland’s Josh Taylor, who has a big fight upcoming with Jose Ramirez. The winner will be the undisputed 140-pound champion owning all four meaningful belts.

Duran and the Gypsy King are well-acquainted. When Fury hooked up with Steward, the nephew of the late Emanuel Steward, Stitch Duran came along in what was something of a package deal. Their first fight together was Fury’s rematch with Deontay Wilder. Staged at the MGM Grand Garden on Feb. 22, 2020, it was a tour-de-force for the Gypsy King.

“Working with Fury was a seamless transition because I was so familiar with the Kronk way of doing things,” says Duran. The legendary Emanuel Steward handled Wladimir for 17 fights. When Steward died of colon cancer in 2012, the torch was passed to Emanuel’s longtime assistant Johnathan Banks.

One can number Stitch among those who thought that Emanuel Steward had no peer as a boxing coach: “Emanuel’s work with Wladimir in his first fight with Samuel Peter was the best corner work I ever saw. Emanuel’s instructions got him back in the fight.”

Klitschko looked like a cooked goose after Peter knocked him down twice in the fifth round, but the big Ukrainian went on to win a clear-cut unanimous decision.

There was a camera crew at the Top Rank Gym gathering up the final pieces for a Stitch Duran documentary that commenced filming in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It should prove interesting.

Nat Fleischer Award

The Boxing Writers Association of America has named Joe Maxse the 48th recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award. The award, which recognizes Excellence in Boxing Journalism, is voted on by previous honorees.

A Cleveland native, Maxse, 69, covered boxing for the Cleveland Plain Dealer from 1987 to 2013. Cleveland was an important fight town during most of those years. Don King built his empire there before relocating to New York City and eventually Deerfield Beach, Florida.

The Fleischer Award has been presented every year since 1973. The first recipient was Barney Nagler who went on to helm the BWAA from 1984 to 1989. Nagler was then the sports columnist for the Daily Racing Form. He had begun his journalism career with the Bronx Home News and was the author of two boxing books, most notably “James Norris and the Decline of Boxing,” a book that still appears on many lists of the best boxing books of all time.

Former recipients include two members of the TSS family: Bernard Fernandez (1998) and Thomas Hauser (2004). Last year’s winner was Graham Houston, the longtime North American correspondent and sometimes editor for several British boxing publications including the venerable Boxing News.

Maxse will be honored along with other award winners (a two-year supply) at the 95th BWAA awards dinner, the date and site of which have yet to be determined. Hopefully, when Maxse takes the podium, he won’t conclude his speech without tossing in an impression of the late Harry Carey. Maxse’s spot-on impersonation of the iconic baseball announcer endeared him to his peers.

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Canelo vs. BJ Saunders: Predictions and Analyses from the TSS Faculty

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More than 60,000 fight fans are expected to gather at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, on Saturday. The turnout for the fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders represents a turning point in the COVID-19 era. Boxing has been pretty much walled-off to the general public since a sellout crowd of 15,816 witnessed the second encounter between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder on Feb. 20, 2020 in Las Vegas.

Canelo Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) holds the WBC and WBA world titles at 168 pounds. Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) owns the WBO belt. However, the hardware is largely immaterial whenever Canelo steps in the ring as he is widely considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. In Saunders he is meeting a slick southpaw bidding to become the second member of the Traveling community to hold multiple title belts simultaneously, joining his friend Tyson Fury. The bout headlines a 7-bout card that will air on DAZN in 200+ countries and territories worldwide and on TV Azteca in Mexico.

Whenever a fight of this magnitude comes down the pike, we invite members of our editorial staff to provide a quick analysis of the match and forecast the outcome. Their prognostications appear below with the respondents listed in alphabetical order.

The graphic is by Colorado comic book cover artist ROB AYALA, an honored guest whenever we perform this kind of exercise. Check out more of Rob’s cool illustrations at his web site fight posium.

PICKS and ANALYSIS

No gimme for Canelo here, as Saunders is a southpaw who can box, has a bit of pop in his punch, as well as a knack for making his opponents look not quite as impressive as they normally are. Still, Canelo is at the top of the boxing food chain for a reason. It’s all right for him to win some fights and not be spectacular in doing so. Figure the Mexican icon on scoring a knockdown or two along the way, but he may have to be satisfied with a win on points this time out. – BERNARD FERNANDEZ

I no longer pick against Canelo Alvarez. And certainly not against a boxing basket case like Billy Joe Saunders. There’s a huge difference in the level of maturity between these two fighters and that will be seen in the ring when Canelo becomes the first to corner the fleet-footed Saunders and put him on his back. Canelo KO in 10. – JEFFREY FREEMAN

Canelo by decision. He does everything better than Saunders, who will fight well enough to survive but not win. – THOMAS HAUSER

Billy Joe is formidable. You don’t lock in an Olympic berth at age 18 without natural talent. You don’t run circles around a big puncher like David Lemieux without a high ring IQ. But Saunders, despite his undefeated record, has been inconsistent. Canelo, as Kevin Iole noted in a recent column, doesn’t do one thing great, but he does everything well. How does one formulate a smart game plan for a boxer with no flaws to exploit? Canelo UD. – ARNE LANG

Much has been made by Saunders’ camp this week about the size of the ring that will be used in the fight. While it seems strange and even unruly that there can be such vast disparities in how large the boxing ring is or how spongy the mat can be for any professional fight card in our sport, the truth of the matter is that Saunders probably doesn’t have much hope in beating Alvarez no matter how those other factors play out. They could fight on a basketball court, and I’d still pick Alvarez. The best the cagey UK fighter will be able to muster is trying to go the distance with the Mexican. Callum Smith pulled it off back in December, but Saunders won’t quite get there. CANELO via 9th-round stoppage. – KELSEY McCARSON

There was a time, not that long ago, when I would have favoured Saunders to beat Canelo and stylistically I still feel Saunders holds all the aces. Canelo’s improvements in the last 30 months have astonished, though. He has found a meaningful fourth and fifth punch for his combinations and his strength, for whatever reason, is prestigious at whatever weight he fights. Saunders, something of a persona-non-grata here in his home country after a series of public relations disasters, is very much a man out of time.  Canelo, bodyshots, between the eighth and the tenth. – MATT McGRAIN

There is a case to be made that Canelo Alvarez has not faced a pure boxer on the level of Billy Joe Saunders since his do-si-do with Erislandy Lara in 2014, in a fight that still has some screaming robbery (Alvarez won by split decision). Of course, that was nearly seven years ago, back when Alvarez was still trading on his telenovela bonafides. Since then, he has gone on to distinguish himself as arguably the best boxer in the sport today. The same cannot be said for the erratic and self-sabotaging Saunders, who has squandered his impressive showing against David Lemieux in 2017 with consecutive lackluster outings against mostly middling opposition. The southpaw will find ways to frustrate Alvarez at times, to be sure, but expect Alvarez to slow down the jittery motions of the Brit by punishing him to the body en route to a mostly clear win on the cards. Canelo by majority decision. – SEAN NAM

I see a feeling-out type fight in the first two rounds and then Canelo begins the stalk. Saunders will be more elusive and more savvy than most of Canelo’s opponents, occasionally getting in some sharp counters. However, he will begin to tire late from an accumulation of Canelo’s body work and from backing up. This will allow the Mexican to increase the tempo looking for a way to close the show. The Traveler will survive. But Canelo will win with a dominating UD. – TED SARES

Two names come to mind for me when deciding how this fight will play out. First, Erislandy Lara, who I saw outbox but not outfight Alvarez. Second is Alexander Povetkin, whose horrible performance against Dillian Whyte was reportedly due to coronavirus residue, which Alvarez also claims to have been afflicted by. Can Saunders, another left-hander with a bit more of a reach advantage than Lara, take advantage of a possibly weakened Canelo? Don’t bet on it unless Cinco de Mayo weekend gets cancelled and nobody from Texas or Mexico shows up for the fight. Saunders seems capable of making it interesting, but Alvarez wins by wide decision or late TKO.  – PHIL WOOLEVER

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A Heinous Crime Will Likely Land Felix Verdejo in Prison for the Rest of His Life

Arne K. Lang

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“Felix has a sparkling personality, a flashy fighting style, and he’s good. He’s also f-a-s-t.” The quote is from Thomas Hauser who wrote those words in June of 2015 after Verdejo improved his record to 18-0 with a near-shutout of fellow unbeaten Ivan Nejara on an HBO card from the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

At this juncture it appeared that Verdejo, a former Olympian, was destined to become the next icon of Puerto Rican fight fans, the heir-apparent to Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto.

Today, news stories about Verdejo make no reference to his sparkling personality. It’s an attribute inconsistent with the portrait of a monster.

This past Saturday, as hardcore fight fans were glued to the telecast of a show in Manchester, England, it came to light that authorities in San Juan, Puerto Rico, had found the body of a young woman who had been reported missing after failing to turn up at her job at a dog grooming salon on Thursday morning, that the decedent was plainly the victim of foul play, that Verdejo was the primary suspect in her murder, and that he wasn’t cooperating with the authorities.

When the corpse of the missing woman was fished from a lagoon, her body was reportedly so mangled that forensic examiners had to consult dental records to confirm that the decedent was indeed Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz, the 27-year-old woman they were looking for. The boxer and Ms. Rodriguez had reportedly known each other since middle school. According to Rodriguez’s family members, she was pregnant with Verdejo’s child and the boxer, who was married with a 2-year-old daughter, wasn’t happy about it.

Keishla

Keishla Rodriguez

With each new detail, the story became more sordid.

It is alleged that the victim was thrown off a bridge after being punched in the face and injected with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance. Verdejo and an accomplice – who hasn’t been charged and is identified only as a witness – then tied her hands and feet with wire and weighed the body down with a cinderblock before tossing it into the water. When the body was slow to sink, Verdejo allegedly fired a bullet at it. A shell casing was found on the bridge and the authorities have corroborating evidence from toll booth cameras.

As first reported by veteran boxing writer Jake Donovan, the boxer surrendered to FBI agents yesterday evening (Sunday). He appeared this morning via zoom before federal magistrate Camille Velez Rive who ordered him returned to prison and held without bail.

Many of the headlines in the tabloids say that Verdejo is facing the death penalty. That’s technically true. The three crimes for which he has been charged — carjacking resulting in death, kidnapping resulting in death, and intentionally killing an unborn child – are federal crimes. As a commonwealth of the United States, Puerto Rico is subject to U.S. federal laws. However, Puerto Rico abolished capitol punishment in 1929. The country hasn’t executed anyone since 1927 when a man named Pascual Ramos was hanged for killing his boss.

It’s doubtful that prosecutors would pursue the death penalty unless the trial were moved to the mainland. However, domestic violence has become a hot-button issue in Puerto Rico and the national mood toward crimes of this nature is trending toward harsher retribution. Yesterday, according to the Daily Mail, hundreds of people, mostly women, including Rodriguez’s sister, gathered at the bridge that spans the lagoon to pay their respects and demand justice for the victims of domestic violence.

Felix Verdejo turned pro  at age 19 after representing Puerto Rico in the 2012 London Olympics. He rose to #1 in the WBO lightweight rankings after defeating Oliver Flores in February of 2017, but was demoted for inactivity. There were extenuating circumstances including fights that fell out and a 6-day stay in a hospital following a motorcycle accident.

He returned to the ring after a 13 ½ month absence and suffered his first pro defeat. An unheralded Mexican, Antonio Lozada, stopped him in the final round, the 10th. Verdejo was ahead on two of the scorecards through the nine completed rounds. There were 23 seconds remaining in the contest when the bout was stopped.

Verdejo’s most recent fight came in December of last year. He was stopped in the ninth round by Masayoshi Nakatani at the MGM Bubble in Las Vegas, reducing his pro record to 27-2. As happened against Lozada, Verdejo faded late, squandering a big lead.

Verdejo photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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