SAN DIEGO, April 29, 2016 – Five years ago on April 16, 2011, 24-year-old Victor Ortiz went into his first fight at welterweight with the goal of making a statement by successfully challenging then undefeated champion 27-year-old Andre Berto. Not many gave the Californian a chance against the Floridian despite a strong record. Oritz had 22 knockouts in 28 fights against two losses and two draws. But Ortiz was still trying to come back from one of those losses, a sixth round stoppage by Marcos Maidana.
Both Ortiz and Berto showed heart and determination in a punishing fight. Both were knocked down four times each. Both managed to get up and continue after each knockdown. It was Ortiz who prevailed, winning a unanimous decision.
Fast-forward to Saturday, April 30, when fight fans anticipate the same sort of action in Ortiz vs. Berto II at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The Premier Boxing event airs for the first time on the Fox Network starting with undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
To understand why there’s so much anticipation between two men not even rated in the top 20 of their weight division, you need to know the backstory.
See the original fight in the video window below.
Ortiz Vs. Berto I from April 16, 2011
The first bout turned out to be the finest hour for both Ortiz (31-5-2, 24 KOs) and Berto (31-5-2, 24 KOs). Neither capitalized on their participation in the 2011 Fight of the Year. Ortiz hit a three fight losing streak including a fourth round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather, caught when he failed to protect himself and Mayweather took full advantage. Ortiz took a year and a half off to appear in the movie “The Expendables” with Sylvester Stallone, appear on “Dancing With The Stars,” do some modeling and product endorsements and walk a lot of red carpets.
Berto, who should have been the man to fight Mayweather until Ortiz took the opportunity away by beating him, lost three of his next six fights, beaten by Roberto Guerrero, Jesus Soto Karass, and most recently by Floyd Mayweather who finally gave Berto the opportunity four years after he originally expected. Mayweather had little trouble with Berto, winning a unanimous decision.
Ortiz eventually returned for a fight in December 2014 against Luis Collazo, in which he appeared to simply give up. Another year went by before Ortiz stepped into the ring again. Ortiz began his comeback attempt with a solid performance against Gilberto Sanchez Leon of Mexico. Ortiz knocked Leon down in the first and third rounds before stopping the fight for good in the eighth round. It was good for Ortiz to get some rounds in the books after a year off recovering from injury.
To quote the Grateful Dead, what a long strange trip it’s been. Five years later, Ortiz and Berto are coming full circle to find out whether lightning can strike twice. Their rematch takes place Saturday at a venue with a reputation for explosive fights and the home to three recent Fights of the Year. Good things happen at StubHub. Southern California fans know they miss showing up at their own risk.
Ortiz is only 29; Berto is only 32. In theory either should have plenty of time to work his way back into the welterweight division with a good performance. The rematch presents the perfect opportunity for someone to impress and open a few doors including a world title opportunity with a win. The loser is dangerously close to seeing his career end. It is truly a must-win situation for both.
“The situation five years ago, there’s no reason to keep speaking on that. I’m a better man today,” said Berto. “Everybody knows me and knows how I get down. I’ll do my talking in the ring. Thanks to Victor for taking this fight. All the personal stuff aside, we have to get in the ring and do what we have to do. It’s been five years coming and now we’re here.”
Adding to the drama is the legitimate personal animosity between the fighters. Ortiz and Berto have been saying all the right things, engaging in some creative trash talk. Ortiz says Berto “doesn’t deserve” the rematch. Berto retorts that it’s not “Dancing With The Stars.”
“I believe he knows he is going to be in there with a different type of animal this time,” said Berto. “I think he is already defeated. He sees how focused I am. If he has been hearing anything from camp, he knows I’m ready to go.”
The question on everyone’s mind is whether Ortiz and Berto will bring their 2011 attitude and drive into the ring, their 2014 attitudes, or a brand new 2016 attitude.
“This is a totally different fight than five years ago,” said Ortiz. “We’re different people. I’m a different guy and so is he. Saturday is right around the corner and I’m here. I see loss in his eyes … This is a whole new chapter in my saga. I feel like this is my time once again. I’ve only fought in my prime twice. I did a lot of damage at young age. I feel I’m in my prime now. The sky is the limit.”
Andre Berto is a reliable performer if not especially powerful in the later part of his career, with only one TKO since November 2011. He put in a solid performance against Floyd Mayweather in September, but was plain outclassed. His big advantage is having veteran trainer Virgil Hunter in his corner.
Victor Ortiz is erratic. You can never be sure which version shows up, the one with his hair on fire or the one who finds it hard to push through when the going gets tough. The outcome of the fight is dependent on which Victor Ortiz walks into the ring Saturday. We’re calling this one for the more dependable Andre Berto by decision victory.
Television viewers will see two undercard fights. In the co-main event, light heavyweights Edwin Rodriguez (28-1, 19 KOs) and Thomas Williams Jr. (19-1, 13 KOs) fight for the opportunity to fight champion Adonis Stevenson, who says he wants to fight the winner. That sort of visibility and payday should be serious motivation.
Veteran and former three-division champion Fernando Montiel (54-5-2, 39 KOs), 37, will put undefeated countryman Jorge Lara (27-0-2, 19 KOs) to the test in a 10-round all Mexican featherweight bout. Montiel made a solid showing against Lee Selby but still feels he’s got a lot left in the tank. “It’s going to be a great night of fights,” said Montiel. “I’ve had a lot of ups-and-downs throughout my life but I’ve always worked hard … I am a five-time world champion and I’ve been fighting for 20 years but I know on Saturday night that I’m going to have one of the best nights of my career.”
Lara takes a significant step up in competition and will get the chance to prove he belongs among the top boxers in a division loaded with talent including Selby, Leo Santa Cruz, Vasyl Lomanchenko, and Gary Russell Jr. ““It means a lot to me to be able to collide with a great champion like Fernando Montiel,” said Lara.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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