When Andre Berto landed a right-handed bomb that put Victor Ortiz down in the sixth round on Saturday night in Mashantucket, Conn., Rolando Arellano, Ortiz’s manager, had a flashback.
It was the same round in which a badly beaten Ortiz went down for the final time in his war with Marcos Maidana in 2009, after which he decided to stop fighting.
“I almost went into shock. I thought, ‘Oh no, the same s—t is happening again,’” Arellano said.
No, this wasn’t the same s—t. Ortiz not only survived the mammoth punch, he came back to knock down Berto in the same round and win a unanimous decision in a break-out performance that spoke directly critics who questioned his courage.
And Arellano swears he never doubted that his fighter would end exactly where he is – a world titleholder (WBC) with an extremely bright future, this in spite of the debacle against Maidana.
Ortiz not only quit but questioned whether he was cut out to fight afterward.
“I always believed in this kid,” Arellano said. “People make mistakes; it’s human nature. Sometimes you’re greatest lessons come from mistakes. Victor learned. I could see it in the gym during this camp, the way he dominated bigger, stronger guys.
“You had to see what I saw in camp. He was on f—–g fire.”
As he was in the fight. Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 knockouts) knocked Berto (27-1, 21 KOs) down in the first round and never really stopped coming.
“I don’t think Berto thought Victor could hit that hard,” he said. “I’m sure he thought, ‘Holy s—t! This guy has power.’ And I think that when Berto knocked Victor down in the sixth and then Vic took him down, that took his heart.
“I think there were times in fight where Berto almost seemed to look across the ring and think, ‘I gotta do another round of this s—t?’”
The fact that Ortiz brawled with Berto is ironic given that he regretted using that tactic against Maidana, one of the most-powerful sluggers in the world.
Berto also punches hard but Arellano said it was the right game plan for the stocky Floridian, to batter him inside and not let him get his punches off. Ortiz might use his boxing skills more against a different opponent.
“Whatever is most effective against a particular opponent,” Arellano said.
Arellano said Ortiz and Co. will consider all of their many options, everyone from Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao to Selcuk Aydin.
Selcuk Aydin? He’s an unbeaten Germany-based Turk who is ranked No. 2 by the WBC, behind only the inactive Mayweather. “Little Tyson,” as he’s called, apparently has been the sanctioning body’s mandatory challenger for some time.
“We might want to do that,” Arellano said. “He’s been the mandatory for like 14 months. We know exactly how it feels to be the No. 1 contender and having to wait. So that’s a possibility.”
“The bottom line is that money will dictate our decision. Vic is really, really marketable now."