HBO World Championship Boxing, 4.16.11

Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz

I’ll be honest from the start. I had strangely conflicting opinions and there was probably no way both of them were going to live up to what I thought of each fighter.

Before this fight I thought of Andre Berto as overrated. I thought he fought a lot of cupcakes and had various other reasons to not want to fight any real competition. I thought he was ripe to be exposed, but he needed to fight an elite level talent because he was good enough to slide by on his own talent against mid-level opponents.

Before this fight I thought of Victor Ortiz as soft and with an equally soft chin. Oh, and no heart. I thought the first time he stepped into the ring with a true champion he would be destroyed and end up no better than Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. You know, fighting C-level talent and just skating by on talent, never fighting any true danger to his record.

I was wrong. Both times actually.

I thought it would take an elite level talent to really expose Berto. Well Ortiz showed that it didn’t take an elite level fighter to expose Berto. The fact that Berto landed good hard shots and couldn’t keep Ortiz down was evidence enough. He couldn’t keep a fighter who had been shown to have no heart in previous fights and had never fought at 147 lbs before.

On Ortiz, I was proven wrong again. He was soft and he did have no heart, but sometime between after the Maidana fight and Saturday night at Foxwoods, something changed in him. It was evident in his body language. His facial expressions. It wasn’t something you could out-and-out see, more like seeing him move in the ring and just…feeling the change. It was never more evident than in round 6 when Berto came out of his corner like a raging bull. He was ripping Ortiz apart. I even thought to myself, “This is it, he’s gonna fold…”

He didn’t. He got back up like a man and even though Berto still controlled the action even hurting him again in the round. Then in an instant Ortiz countered in a flurry with Berto, caught him flush, and down he went.

Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto both showed me something.

Berto is actually overrated. Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely a quality fighter, but to be calling out Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr and then not be able to lay Ortiz down for the count? Come on now. Either of the fighters he called out would destroy him.

Ortiz proved to me that he does have heart. I don’t know what did it, whether it was seeing himself in his interview after his KO loss to Marcos Maidana or if it was just him staring at himself in the mirror demanding to himself that he have a backbone. Whatever it was, it worked. He took some mean shots from Berto and even when he went down, he got back up and showed that he wasn’t going to just lay down.

Victor Ortiz has earned himself another fan in myself (not to mention all the new fans he has now after his win over Berto).

For what it’s worth:

The judges had the fight 114-111, 114-112, and 115-111.

I had the fight 117-109. It’s a little off, but I just saw Ortiz as the aggressor and in control of the ring more than Berto. Hence the discrepancy between my card and the judges.

Note on the Amir Khan-Paul McCloskey match;

Amir Khan didn’t look good at all against the Northern Irishman McCloskey. I realize McCloskey has an awkward style and is a southpaw, but he was a stepping stone. Amir didn’t need to knock him out, but he did need to look impressive and he looked anything but.

Also, the stoppage in the fight was completely ridiculous. The cut may have ended up stopping the fight in the long run, but at the time (and even though it was bleeding pretty good) he was clearly able to continue.

Khan put himself in the same category at Andre Berto as far as calling out Pacquiao or Mayweather.

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