When their rematch of former welterweight beltholders was rescheduled from Feb. 11 as a result of a ruptured left biceps that was suffered by Andre Berto, Victor Ortiz felt as if he had been cheated of the right to deliver a second consecutive beat-down on the man he dethroned as WBC titleholder in April of last year.
During a press conference on Monday in Los Angeles, exactly a year to the day from when his unanimous decision victory handed Berto (28-1, 22 knockouts) his first career loss, Ortiz (29-3, 22 KOs ) looked Berto in the eyes and all but told him so to his face.
“I told him that I’m going to beat you again, and he told me I got lucky,” said Ortiz, who was subsequently dethroned after a fourth-round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September.
“He tried to bring Floyd into it, but I told him to keep this between me and him. Floyd doesn’t have anything to do with this. I beat him [Berto] the last time, and I’ll beat him again.”
Ortiz and Berto will meet, yet again, on June 23 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, this, after Berto has returned to training following rehabilitation to heal his arm through February and last month.
“I will not underestimate Andre Berto because of his injury. I hope and expect a new and improved Andre Berto. I am training for the greatest Andre Berto ever,” said Ortiz, whose first fight Berto featured two knockdowns by each fighter.
“I want to give the fans the best fight because that’s what they expect from both of us. I am going to be world champion again, there’s no doubt about that. There is only one option for me, and that’s victory.”
The same month during which Ortiz lost to Floyd Mayweather, Berto rebounded by beating IBF welterweight titleholder Jan Zaveck by fifth-round knockout, stopping the previously once-beaten Slovenian-born fighter for the first time in his career.
But Berto wanted revenge so badly against Ortiz that he gave up the IBF belt to face him in a non-title fight.
“I didn’t have to take this fight. This fight is for the fans,” said Berto, who was down in the first round and floored Ortiz in the second and early in the sixth before, himself, being dropped yet again late in the sixth.
“The last one was tremendous and this one is going to be even better. I just need to be smarter and there are a few things I’ll do differently this time.”
Like Ortiz, Berto was itching for the return bout prior to his injury, which occurred during a sparring session on Jan. 30.
“I was disappointed with the injury. It was unfortunate, but I’m glad we made the fight happen. Now I’m back to avenge that loss. I feel a lot better,” said Berto.
“I came back from the Ortiz fight hungry, got a world title and gave it up to beat Ortiz. This is the most important fight of my career. We’re healed and ready to roll.”
ORTIZ LIKES THE KNOCK-DOWN, DRAG-OUT AFFAIRS
Ortiz received the news of Berto’s injury and subsequent postponement of their fight on Jan. 31, the morning of his 25th birthday.
“I didn’t want to wait,” said Ortiz. “But the postponement gave me time to prepare a little bit more.”
Ortiz has a propensity for puting his opponents on the canvas, and may have scored knockdowns against his rivals in all but two or three of his professional fights heading into his clash with Mayweather.
One fight that did not contain any knockdowns was a first-round technical draw against Marvin Cordova in January of 2007 that appeared on ShoBox. Also, Mike Arnaoutis did not hit the canvas during his second round knockout loss to Ortiz in March of 2009.
In one of Ortiz’s most exciting fights, a sixth-round knockout loss to Marcos Maidana, Ortiz was floored twice but scored three knockdowns against his opponent in June of 2009. Ortiz scored a third-round knockdown in his next fight, a seventh-round stoppage of Antonio Diaz in Dec. of 2009.
Ortiz’s next two victories, by 10th-round knockout and unanimous decision, respectively, over Hector Alatore and ex-titleholder Nate Campbell featured knockdowns in the 10th and first rounds in February and May of 2010.
Next, there was a third-round knockout of former beltholder Vivian Harris that featured three knockdowns in September of 2010, and a draw with Lamont Peterson, whom Ortiz dropped twice in the third round in December of 2010.
“The slugfests keep boxing alive,” said Ortiz. “It keeps fans coming back, and I expect another one in June.”
Berto won’t be backing down.
“The arm is feeling great and I’m ready to get in there and handle some unfinished business on June 23,” said Berto. “This is guaranteed to be an explosive fight that you don’t want to miss.”
VADA TO EMPLOY RANDON DRUG TESTING FOR ORTIZ-BERTO II
VADA will first be employed for the the matchup between WBC 154-pound beltholder Saul Alvarez and challenger Shane Mosley in advance of their HBO Pay Per View-televised clash on May 5 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Goodman founded VADA to make the process more affordable for boxers.
HUMBERTO SOTO-LUCAS MATTHYSSE ON ORTIZ-BERTO II UNDERCARD
Hard-hitting junior welterweight contender Lucas Matthysse (30-2, 28 KOs), of Argentina, and former WBC 130-pound and lightwieght titleholder Humberto Soto (58-7-2, 34 KOs), of Mexico, will face off on the Ortiz-Berto II undercard.
Soto is riding a 15-bout winning streak that includes six knockouts, and Matthysse is after his third straight stoppage victory.
“I’m happy to be fighting in Los Angeles. It feels like I’m fighting at home. I expect a very difficult fight.,” said Soto who is at 31, is twoi years older than Matthysse. “I want to fight like a Mexican warrior. I’m hoping that it can be for a world title. I’m going to be in top shape and ready for war.”
Photos by Carlos Delgado, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org