Why Against Why: Andre Berto-Victor Ortiz Preview

*****

“Watchman Falls Victim to His Devotion to Duty.” Andre Breton

Two of the biggest enigmas in boxing—Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz—face off on Saturday night at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, in a bout that ought to be held at the Overlook Hotel or, perhaps, in the broom closet of an odditorium. Both men are prime examples of modern boxing hocus pocus, where a largely unremarkable form of abracadabra is achieved simply by fooling increasingly gullible television network executives and the readers of leastsideboxing.com.

With nearly 60 starts between them, Berto and Ortiz have faced less than a handful of quality fighters combined. In fact, only Luis Collazo, Carlos Quintana, and Marcos Maidana can be considered topnotch opponents, with Juan Urango trailing behind and accompanied by an asterisk. Berto, 27-0 (21), has beaten Collazo, Quintana, and Urango. Ortiz, on the other hand, lost to Maidana via brutal TKO in a thrilling shootout that ended when Ortiz quit in the ring.

Since being publicly humiliated in his loss to Maidana, Ortiz, 28-2-2 (22), has spent nearly two years on a “rebuilding” program sponsored, in large part, by HBO. A steady stream of shot veterans and wall-eyed trialhorses has kept his wallet fat and television viewers perplexed. Ortiz even got to steamroll haywire Vivian Harris for a hefty paycheck to the delight of sadists across North America.

His last bout, a sloppy draw against Lamont Peterson, was a step up, but Ortiz, 24, looked like a fighter suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that night. After dropping Peterson twice in the third round, Ortiz seemed to lose heart and his reluctance to press his advantage allowed Peterson back into the fight. Somewhere along the way, Ortiz has also become reluctant to mix it up, at times simply circling around the ring or, worse, hopping to and fro without any apparent purpose. This new development in his style, a certain skittishness, cost him dearly against Peterson. Now Ortiz, Oxnard, California, faces his first live opponent since June 2009, and he moves up to welterweight for the chance.

Despite the fact that Berto, 27, has been featured on HBO eleven times—eleven!—the public is none the wiser for it. Neither, it appears, is Ross Greenburg. Berto, Winterhaven, Florida, was last seen earning roughly $900,000 as the chief undercard support for the Juan Manuel Marquez-Michael Katsidis firefight. He knocked out completely overmatched Freddy Hernandez in less than a minute. Like many young fighters on the HBO subsidy program over the last few years, Berto is on a two-fight a year schedule against soft opponents for big money. How a fighter who has never garnered ratings and who once drew 985 1/4 paying customers to a hometown title defense has managed such a swindle is difficult to say. Logic, like water in the desert, is a limited commodity in boxing, and the career of Andre Berto is a reminder that prizefighting is often less a sport than a series of surreal shell games.

As for the fight itself, the number of riddles surrounding it gives the bout an air of intrigue not often found on HBO these days unless you count “Boardwalk Empire” and “Big Love.”

Neither man has been in a serious fight in years. Berto struggled early against Quintana, but took over within a couple of rounds; Ortiz did not look particularly good against Peterson, but it was his nerves—and myopic judges—that cost him a win that night.

These days, Ortiz is footloose between the ropes, which might be of some use against a flat-footed Berto, and he also has the advantage of being a southpaw. On the other hand, Ortiz is often clumsy and off-balance when throwing combinations, seems to have difficulty implementing a game plan, and enters the ring with a chin shaped like a question mark. For his part, Berto has developed some bad habits in the ring—mincing with his jab, keeping his hands low, and hugging on the inside—perhaps the byproducts of knowing that there is usually more danger in climbing the ring steps than there is in swapping punches with his opponents come fight night.

Both fighters are hopeless on the inside, with Berto, in particular, looking like a man snuggling up to a leggy blond in the clinches. Even Carlos Quintana, a crafty southpaw boxer, roughed up Berto in close, dropping The Human Bermuda Triangle of Boxing with a short blow to the side of the head within two minutes of the opening bell. Referee Tommy Kimmons chose to ignore the knockdown and then made the existential decision to favor Berto every chance he could that night. Berto looked like the biggest crybaby in the world against Quintana in the opening round, perhaps the sign of a man who has gotten too used to having it easy in the ring.

Even so, Berto has faster hands, hits harder, and can be creative with his offense, particularly with a sneaky right uppercut. He is also used to taking shots from smaller men moving up in weight class. In the battle between two walking conundrums, Berto seems slightly less mystifying than Ortiz at this point. He ought to be able to hurt Ortiz somewhere along the way and stop him with a follow-up blitz, although nothing can ever be certain when entering the boxing equivalent of Wonderland.

*****

SEE ALSO:

Andre Berto: The Human Bermuda Triangle of Boxing

Easy Street: Andre Berto TKO8 Carlos Quintana

*****

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Topics: ANDRE BERTO, Carlos Quintana, HBO, LAMONT PETERSON, VICTOR ORTIZ, Welterweights

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  • phils

    Hi Carlos: Great stuff as always. I simply cannot believe Andre Berto has been on HBO eleven times. That is amazing.

    It’s funny, when I read the Backward Glance posts on here, I really realize how much the sport has changed and I was thinking about that with respect to this fight. For starters, in these posts, one week you read that two fighters had a close fight and the next week you read that they are scheduled for a rematch.

    I have always thought that back in the day we would have seen a Colazo-Berto rematch. Not only would the press and public have demanded it, but also Berto would be clamoring for it. When his own corner was caught on tape saying he needed a knockout to win in the last round (whether they believed it or not, and I think they did), a fighter would want to provide no doubt that he actually did win. I would think, anyway.

    It’s probably too late for the rematch, and from what I understand, either HBO didn’t have much interest in the rematch or there wasn’t enough money in it. Both excuses seem flimsy considering that they WERE interested in Freddy Hernandez AND for big money.

    On the flip side, I have to wonder what promoters, the press, and fans would have done to a guy like Ortiz in 1931 after his performance against Maidana.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi phils,

      Thanks. It is amazing that Berto has been on HBO that many times. The man has become a multimillionaire with his only accomplishments being a razor thin decision over Luis Collazo and a KO of faded Carlos Quintana. Now his bout with another smaller opponent is being pumped up as his payoff superfight for Time-Warner. Unbelievable.

      Boxing today is completely different from what it used to be. Mostly, it’s smoke and mirrors now, with a couple of differences being the explosion of ancillary revenue produced by technology and purses being decided seemingly at random for fighters by network honchos without a clue. Fighters are simply not part of a professional sports class anymore and ply their trades only every so often.

      In 1931, Ortiz would have been a different person in a different sport and wouldn’t have quit, because the damage that reputation would have given him would have limited his gate appeal considerably and would have cost him serious $.

  • Dennis Wise

    Top notch stuff, Carlos. I favor Berto as well. But I don’t think either guy can take a great punch, or can win a grueling war. Ortiz is such damaged goods, I don’t see any possibility that this fights tells us anything about how Berto will do at the top level

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi Dennis,

      thanks. Isn’t it amazing that after all this time no one knows if Berto is–or can compete on–top level? Yet, as I mentioned below, he’s a cocky multimillionaire. He has talent, but is really the poster child for a lot of what is wrong with boxing right now. Ortiz also has talent, but seems to have mentally regressed over the last two years. Let’s just hope they put on a good fight tomorrow night and then we can just cover our ears when the winner starts to bleat.

      • phils

        Great point. How can someone be in ELEVEN HBO fights and still have questions about him?

        • Carlos Acevedo

          Hi phils,

          unfortunately a lot of modern boxers have/had the same problem. Before you know it, they are proclaimed stars, “P-4-P” stalwarts, etc. and yet they’ve done little to deserve these accolades. Ortiz, Chad Dawson, Angulo, Arreola, Berto, etc, have been on HBO repeatedly without almost any distinction to be found in many of their bouts. It’s unreal.

      • Dennis Wise

        It will take a hell of a turn around for Ortiz because as you say he has mentally regressed as a competitor.

        when the draw was announced against Peterson, his response was a shrug that suggested he didn’t really care, or worse was satisfied with the result.

        • Carlos Acevedo

          Hi Dennis,

          It’s true. Like I mentioned to JPF, it will be a real accomplishment if Ortiz can beat Berto, perhaps his first as a fighter, but to have so many people questioning your mental state is a really bad sign…if he is unable to put the talent he does have in play due to reluctance, lack of confidence, etc.–then he’ll look like a crash test dummy.

          Although he quit against Maidana, I really think his corner failed him that night. Between the 5th and 6th rounds sitting on his stool, Ortiz looked completely out of it and sending him out again ruined his reputation…letting him next to the microphone after the fight was doubly stupid.

          • johnpaulfutbol

            CA,

            Spot on regarding Ortiz’ corner letting him down. I had a really good seat for that fight and a great view of that right that landed on Ortiz near the ropes at end of the 5th round. He looked like he was walking the plank on his way to his corner. The fight was done at that point.

          • Carlos Acevedo

            Hi JPF,

            the guy was in a far away place after that crazy right hand smacked him. (He still seems to be in a faraway place as a matter of fact.) And if you knew that sitting in the crowd–WTF is up with these trainers who were inches away from him? They were exhorting him in the corner, and he was like, “Huh?” He needed to be pulled for his own safety. That’s why it was good that Russ Anber stepped in to save Lemieux against Rubio. What’s the point of having a young fighter laid out completely or so disoriented he just quits and heaps shame upon himself? And Anber was criticized. If he worked Ortiz’ corner, Ortiz wouldn’t have to walk around with that Scarlet “Q” on him all the time.

  • johnpaulfutbol

    CA,

    This is it! This is the big one. A negative times a negative equals a positive and all that, I’m actually looking forward to this fight.

    I give Ortiz a slight chance. Berto’s bad habits combined with Ortiz being a southpaw “could” make it interesting….for a while. Berto is pretty fast, but his speed is also a bit of fool’s gold as his lack of jab and poor footwork would seem to negate it a bit…in my opinion…or in my imagination. I don’t get why Berto stands with his feet so far apart when throws his punches at times. Ortiz seems to definitely suffer from “PTSD,” that’s a great way of putting it…..that will probably dictate the outcome.

    Thanks for reminding me of all the whining Berto did and the special treatment he got from Kimmons vs. Quintana. It’s all coming back to me now!

    Furthermore..LOL at the angle that Berto seeks or will gain respect vs. Ortiz. WTF? If only it could be so easy for the rest of us…relative to whatever the hell we got going on in life.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi JPF,

      I know you’ve been waiting for this fight for a long time! It’s like Hagler-Hearns all over again!

      I don’t rule out Ortiz completely either. Berto’s worst habit–worse than his saddle stance in my opinion–is the “stick out the left hand and wave it at your opponent” move. He’ll pay for that eventually, but Ortiz might not be the guy to do it, especially if he decides to hop around on the perimeter. In the end, who knows what these guys will bring to the ring? Whatever skills they might have had have probably failed to develop (or atrophied altogether) because of the soft touches they’ve had.

      Berto wept and moaned against Quintana and Kimmons stepped in to change his diapers and burp him. Maybe southpaws get to Berto, since he did struggle mightily with Collazo, too.

      I don’t know anything about that last angle you mentioned since I tend to avoid most boxing media these days. Really, it’s a waste of time and all reading that stuff does is make me wonder who will win a Rosenbanally. Berto proves nothing if he wins. Ortiz, on the other hand, definitely gets a boost beating Berto, since he has never beaten A SINGLE GOOD fighter despite being the savior of boxing.

  • http://theboxingbulletin.com Andrew Fruman

    Hi Carlos,

    I think Berto’s going to have an easy time in there.

    It’s just hard to see Ortiz testing Berto’s vulnerabilities. If he was reluctant to let his hands go against Peterson after taking the upper hand, or even engage a faded Nate Campbell – what are the chances that he’s going to stand his ground and rip shots back against Berto?

    He just looks mentally done in there. Hope I’m wrong though, as a decent fight would be nice to see.

    • Michael Nelson

      I agree Andrew, nothing that I’ve seen from Ortiz in the last few years gives me confidence that he’ll be willing to take Berto’s incoming enough to win the fight. His best chance is an early knockout. If he doesn’t take Berto out within four rounds, I think he’s toast.

      I can’t believe he’s had 11 HBO appearances. Good stuff, Carlos

      • Carlos Acevedo

        Hi Michael,

        If Ortiz comes out to end the fight quickly–like he used to, before the Maidana disaster–we ought to be able to see some sparks in there. And maybe one of these guys will see stars.

        Yeah, Berto has been on HBO that much and against third-rate fighters–mostly. I’ve seen him fight live twice, and even after all that time, I have no idea what level he’s on. But he’s made a fortune and boxing is a hustler’s paradise, so more power to him, I guess. But where does that leave the rest of us?

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi Andrew,

      You might be right about Berto walking through here. I think the interest in this fight is in the strange characters involved here and the fact that the fight might become some kind of dramady. Is Ortiz as heartless as people claim? Is he as out of his mind as he has sounded in press conferences leading up to the bout? How long will Berto remain an HBO puzzle?

      In the end, Ortiz doesn’t have any advantages except being a southpaw, but let’s hope he parlays that into some fun.

      • http://theboxingbulletin.com Andrew Fruman

        Well, I was certainly way off… and glad to be wrong, as that was a heck of a fight.

        • Carlos Acevedo

          Hi Andrew,

          So long as a good fight comes off, I rarely care who wins and this fight was certainly more than “good.” Ortiz walked through some fire Saturday night and deserves all the credit in the world for putting on a good show. It was a pleasant surprise to see him taking it to Berto and fighting with some serious venom. To me, this was a fight between two guys who haven’t proven much over the years and were largely unknown quantities. Now we know a little more about them. Berto is a seriously flawed fighter, but has heart and a decent right hand. Ortiz is more determined than people thought, tougher, and not as mentally fatigued as (I, for one) generally assumed. It was good to find out more about them in a fun scrap….