Michael Rosenthal

Berto dismisses criticism of decision to fight Ortiz

Andre Berto dismissed criticism of his decision to defend his WBC welterweight title against Victor Ortiz, who will be moving up from junior welterweight for the April 16 fight.

Promoter Bob Arum recently took a shot at both Berto and Ortiz when he said, “you people should be getting tired of seeing Andre Berto fight busboys and junior welters whose only distinction is quitting.” The latter point was a reference to Ortiz’s decision to bail out of his fight against Marcos Maidana in 2009.

Berto said the fact he has weighed less than 146 pounds in four of his past five fights indicates that he’s not a big welterweight, for which the limit is 147. Ortiz has weighed as much as 144.

“Victor Ortiz is almost the same size as me or bigger,” Berto said. “There’s not that big a difference at all. Bob Arum is just saying that because he wants me to fight his kid, Mike Jones. … He says that but puts Manny Pacquiao in with a guy like Shane Mosley, who lost to Mayweather and is coming off a draw with Sergio Mora.

“Promoters talk the way they’re going to talk. I’ll fight anybody at any time. And I might come in lighter for this fight just to show people we’re the same size.”

Meanwhile, Berto (27-0, 21 knockouts) said he doesn’t believe that Ortiz (28-2-2, 22 KOs) is a changed fighter since he was stopped by Maidana.

Ortiz is 4-0-1 since the setback, including a lackluster majority draw against Lamont Peterson in his most-recent fight.

“We’ve already seen what he’s made of,” Berto said. “When you get pushed against the wall, you have to push back. When you look at him, he’s still the same guy. Nothing’s changed. And he’ll be in there with a guy who is a lot faster and stronger than he is, a lot more determined.

“He’ll have to show me that he has changed. … I’ll test his heart. I want to see what he’s about.”

The fighters have agreed to fight in a split-site doubleheader on HBO with the Amir Khan-Paul McCloskey fight in the UK.

However, no site for Berto-Ortiz had been selected as of Friday. Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, Ortiz’s promoter, said he has reserved the tennis arena at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and was waiting to hear back from Lou DiBella, Berto’s promoter.

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