Michael Rosenthal

DiBella: Berto didn’t lose value after a gallant effort in defeat

Andre Berto’s promoter believes his fighter remains a marketable commodity in spite of his unanimous-decision loss — the first of his career — to Victor Ortiz in a fight-of-the-year candidate on Saturday in Mashantucket, Conn.

Berto (27-1, 21 knockouts) and Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) both fought their hearts out, he said, with a determined Ortiz outworking Berto to win the WBC welterweight title and silence critics who questioned his courage.

That doesn’t make the setback much easier for the Berto camp to accept, though. DiBella blamed the loss on a simple off night.

“It just didn’t look like he felt good,” DiBella said. “Not necessarily physically, but mentally. You could see the difference in the ring walks. One guy looked like he was going to kick ass, the other had no fire. He didn’t string his punches together, which played into Ortiz’s hands. Vic had a great night.

“Andre has a huge heart. He just got outworked. … I don’t think Andre lost any value, though. It was a great fight, great for boxing. I think both guys figure into big fights.”

DiBella believes the sixth round provided stark evidence that Berto wasn’t himself.

The former titleholder decked Ortiz with a perfect right about two thirds into the round, hurting him badly. However, he was unable to finish the job and was knocked down himself with seconds remaining in the round. Ortiz controlled the fight from there.

“I’m 99 percent sure that the Berto I know would’ve stopped anyone he hurt that much,” DiBella said. “He let Ortiz off the hook and Ortiz dominated the end of the fight.”

DiBella confirmed that Berto broke a bone in his right hand, according to an initial exam. However, he said doctors want to conduct an MRI after the swelling goes down completely.

“That wasn’t the reason Andre lost, anyway. It was Ortiz’s night,” DiBella said.

DiBella doesn’t know yet what the future holds.

“We’re giving everybody a week to relax,” he said. “I’ll to talk to Andre, talk to (manager) Al Haymon. And we’ll figure out a plan. I’d love a rematch. And I think it’ll happen, maybe not right now, but it’ll happen.”

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