RING No. 4-rated welterweight Andre Berto has announced that he is vacating his IBF belt in favor of a shot at revenge against RING No. 3-rated Victor Ortiz, who dethroned Berto as WBC titleholder by unanimous decision in April.
Berto (28-1, 22 KOs) and Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) could meet on Jan. 28 at a site to be determined, if Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer is able to work out a deal with HBO that includes a potential welterweight double-header that would include former WBC/IBF junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander (22-1, 13 KOs) against former IBF junior welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi. (30-4, 6 KOs).
“It’s a fight that I want more than a world championship. I love my title, but then again, I want to give the fans what they want to see. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night going the other route and just skimming through,” Berto was quoted by ESPN.com.
“Knowing who I am, and how I was brought up, and my passion for the game, that’s the route I need to go. It’s just me. I’m the type of kid that if I got in a schoolyard fight, I’m gonna see that guy and we will have to fight every day until I beat him. I know we’re going to have to scrap again.”
The 28-year-old Berto rebounded from his loss to Ortiz by dethroning Jan Zaveck (31-2, 18 KOs) as IBF titleholder by fifth-round knockout in September, stopping Zaveck for the first time in his career.
Ortiz was dropped in the second and sixth rounds by Berto, whom Ortiz floored in the first and sixth. Ortiz was dethroned as WBC beltholder in September following a fourth-round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. (42-0, 26 KOs), THE RING’s No. 2-rated pound-for-pound.
Berto’s move means that he will not face hard-punching IBF mandatory challenger Randall Bailey (42-7, 36 KOs), who has won his past three welterweight fights, one of them by knockout, since, himself, being stopped by Juan Urango in the 11th-round of a failed bid to earn the IBF’s junior welterweight title in August of 2009.
HBO was not interested in purchasing Berto against Bailey, who is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision over Yoryi Estrella in September.
“[Berto] didn’t want to [give up his belt,] and he doesn’t understand why HBO would turn down Randall Bailey as an opponent, but he also wants revenge against Ortiz,” said Berto’s promoter, Lou DiBella to ESPN.com.
“The fact is there is no American TV money to make Berto-Bailey so it couldn’t be made. We are trying to make the Ortiz rematch.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com