Two fighters dripping with talent and expected to be superstars by their respective promoters meet to decide which way the pendulum sways. Will it be WBC welterweight titleholder Andre Berto or California’s “Vicious” Victor Ortiz?
Speedy Berto (27-0, 21 KOs) defends the world title against hammer-fisted Ortiz (28-2-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday, April 16, at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. HBO will televise the match along with Amir Khan’s title defense that takes place earlier in the afternoon.
Both boxers have puzzled promoters, matchmakers and fans alike.
On one side there is the much ballyhooed Berto whose speed and footwork have enabled him to remain unbeaten. Good jab: he has that. Good power: he has that. Good defense: he has that. The only thing missing is a good win.
Last year he seemed headed toward determining whether or not he can be described as an elite prizefighter. An earthquake suddenly disrupted plans for Berto to fight Sugar Shane Mosley and that fighter moved on to fight Floyd Mayweather last April. Berto had lost his chance.
Though born in the U.S. Berto fought for Haiti during the Olympics in 2004. The fleet-footed boxer didn’t fare well in the Olympics but most saw him as a can’t-miss prospect as a professional.
Most of Berto’s wins have come easily and suddenly except for those bouts against top-tiered talent or world champions. In those instances Berto had problems against Luis Collazo, and also against Cosme Rivera. But, in retrospect, that was years ago. He just needs a win against a well known fighter to gain respectability.
“I feel I’ll always get a little criticism,” said Berto, who is making his sixth world title defense. “I’m fighting Victor Ortiz. I’m going in with a guy with a lot of speed and power. He’s going to bring some action and try to prove himself.”
Berto has got that right.
Ortiz, like Berto, was emblazoned by his promoter Golden Boy Promotions to be the second coming of Oscar De La Hoya. Fans loved his smile, his looks, the power in each fist and the remarkable story of his life.
The Kansas transplant was about to ascend the throne being assembled for him when he was derailed by Argentina’s wrecking ball Marcos Maidana. Both fighters took turns knocking each other down with Maidana hitting the deck three times. Ortiz was floored twice but after the second knockdown that took place in the sixth round, he suddenly motioned to the referee that he wanted no more. Fans were disappointed.
Golden Boy has tried to rebuild not just his confidence but his fandom in a contrived but deliberate fashion. Wins over Nate Campbell, Vivian Harris and Antonio Diaz were good but when he faced Lamont Peterson last December and fought to a draw, most observers were disappointed. Not just because it ended in a draw, but that many felt Ortiz should have been able to stop Peterson when he had him hurt. Instead, Peterson fought on and seemed to gather momentum.
“I know where I’m going and what I’m about. I must be champion and I will be champion,” said Ortiz making his first prizefight at 147 pounds. “Berto has been talked about as the next thing. I don’t agree. April 16th I must and will bring back the belt.”
Both fighters need a win and both know the loser could be a future gate-keeper for the remainder of that boxer’s career.
“Victor Ortiz is a good kid and can fight. He is limited in a lot of areas. He’s trying to box but needs to be set on his feet to throw punches. He’s a tough kid,” said Berto analyzing Ortiz’s style and ability. “Lamont Peterson, later in the fight, hit him with a lot of tough shots. If I had hit him like that, he probably would go to sleep. He definitely comes to fight.”
Ortiz seems equally concerned and optimistic.
“I’m going to be crowned, no matter what. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve been here a while and finally they’re going to give me a shot. It’s my time! Winning The Ring title definitely is important to me because it shows I’m the best in the world.”
On which side will the pendulum strike?