On Tuesday morning, former welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz will celebrate his 25th birthday with a 10-mile run.
Ortiz will do so not because he’s training for one of the most meaningful fights of his career, but in order to diffuse his ire after having learned that his Showtime-televised rematch with former beltholder Andre Berto has been postponed on Monday night.
“I’m going to go on a 10-mile run on the morning of my 25th birthday,” said Ortiz, whose rematch with Berto was scheduled for Feb. 11 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. “That’s just how angry I am.”
According to his trainer, Tony Morgan, Berto (28-1, 22 knockouts) suffered a ruptured left biceps while throwing a hook to sparring partner Tureano Johnson’s head, and will require arthroscopic surgery as early as Tuesday.
The injury forces the postponement of their highly-anticipated return bout. The first bout, last April, featured two knockdowns by each fighter before Ortiz emerged with a unanimous decision victory for the WBC belt.
“It’s just one of those things, man,” said Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs). “It can happen to anyone, and I wish him a quick and speedy recovery.”
Ortiz lost the title via fourth-round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September, the same month that Berto rebounded by beating IBF welterweight titleholder Jan Zaveck by fifth-round knockout.
Berto gave up the IBF belt to face Ortiz in a non-title fight, the rights for which were purchased for $2.25 million by Showtime’s executive vice president and general manager of sports and event programming, Stephen Espinoza, trumping the offer of $2.15 million by HBO, which originally televised Ortiz-Berto I.
“Boxing fans really wanted this fight. We’re right there with these two guys. We’re right there behind Mayweather and [Manny] Pacquiao, and then there’s these two, hungry young guys Ortiz and Berto. I mean, Floyd’s the best of the best, and so is Pacquiao, but you can’t deny that they’re in their 30s,” said Ortiz’s manager, Rolando Arellano.
“This fight, you know, is basically the segue to the future of boxing, because one of these guys could be the next big star out there. So we would like to reschedule this fight. This is what we wanted to do. We want to fight Berto and Berto wanted to fight us. It’s really disappoinging to Victor.”
Ortiz said that he had been having a good day until he heard the news.
“I had been picking up my car, because I had a couple of my buddies working on it after some lady had hit me a few weeks back,” said Ortiz, who drives a 1998 Mercedes.
“So I was checking on my car, and I enjoyed watching the car go through its transformation after being painted and stripped down and whatnot. This was just kind of a way to distract myself over the last couple of weeks before the fight.”
Then came the news from Arellano.
“Disappointed isn’t even the best word to describe how I feel right now. I got home, and my manager is like, ‘Guess what? I don’t know how to tell you this, so I’m just going to to ahead and tell you that your fight has been postponed or cancelled,'” said Ortiz.
“I was just like, ‘Wow.’ I was speechless. Do I have anything bad to say about Berto? No. Not at all. S–t happens. But I wish him a quick recovery, because I need to get into the ring with him ASAP. I mean, this is unfortunate, but there’s no one to blame.”
In the meantime, Mayweather still is in search of an opponent for his target date of May 5 at the MGM Grand, leaving plenty of time for Ortiz to be scheduled for a return bout, said the fighter.
Unlike his first meeting with Mayweather, Ortiz promises that there will be no intentional headbutts.
“I’m open to fighting Floyd. I’m definitely ready, bro. First fight was just one of those things where stuff happens, you know?” said Ortiz. “But this time, I’ll keep it clean. No craziness. Other than that, let’s dance once again.”
Photo by Phil McCarten, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com