Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Victor Ortiz made a statement at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, by beating erstwhile undefeated Andre Berto to become the latest incumbent of the WBC’s famous green belt at the 147lb weight limit. Ortiz was the aggressor throughout the fight while Berto tried to box his way out of trouble.
[Judges scorecards: 115-110, 114-111 114-112 to Ortiz]
Berto had faced criticism for facing opponents from super lightweight as opposed to his natural welterweight division and Ortiz was deemed another one of those adversaries. However, ‘Vicious’ Victor officially weighed in 0.5lb heavier than Berto on Friday and entered the ring at 161lbs; 14lbs heavier than the division limit and 5lbs more than Berto who rehydrated to 156lbs.
Perhaps in an effort to make a statement, Ortiz donned a caricature sombrero and flambouyant stars and stripes flag embroidered robe on his walk to the ring, Berto, meanwhile, elected for a more ‘quam’-like entrance while hip-hop beats blared through the HBO speakers.
Round By Round Summary
Round One: Both fighters looked to take control of the middle of the ring from the off and Victor Ortiz stood up to his ‘Vicious’ moniker by seemingly dropping Berto with a stiff left, however, the referee did not rule it as a knockdown. Fuelled by the knowledge that he could get through to the champion, Victor went after the early knockout by forcing Berto onto the turnbuckle and had Andre touching the canvas with an uppercut. On his way to the corner, Berto almost fell off his stool.
Round Two: Berto’s faculties still seemed to have abandoned him but in the second minute of the round he looked to exert his authority with the jab. Ortiz, though, with a hunched posture, high guard and heavy hands dominated the lion’s share of the round and was clinical with a three-punch combination. Ortiz’s mitt touched the canvas after a right hand (introduced with the jab) from Berto and the referee ruled it a knockdown even though Ortiz was trying to catch his balance.
Round Three: Berto landed a heavy right which inspired Ortiz to retaliate in kind and the two engaged in a brawl. Berto appeared fatigued, loose and uneasy and needed to spoil in order to regain his composure. Ortiz’s work was superior as he often had Berto against the ropes while he controlled both the tempo and the centre of the ring. Factors that could have a say in the outcome of the fight are Berto’s legs, not being able to defend Ortiz’s uppercut and Ortiz’s new found willingness to take a shot.
Round Four: Berto’s trainer Morgan instructed his ward to collect his breath during the minute’s break and to box Ortiz, box and move and to stay off the ‘f*cking’ ropes. Within the opening minute, though, Berto was again on the ropes, his legs were weak and Ortiz’s come-forward style instilled fear into the champion. Morgan also wanted Berto to attack Victor’s body; something he failed to do as he targetted the head. Berto took numerous power shots without reply.
Round Five: Ortiz’s sheer activity was reflected by the stat that he had, on average, thrown one shot every three seconds throughout the course of the fight (over 60 per round). Ortiz landed hooks courtesy of both fists and an uppercut crept through Berto’s guard. Berto, by the fifth, finally seemed to have recovered from the knockdown in the first – the strength had returned to his legs, but the round belonged to Ortiz.
Round Six: Berto’s ring style has not been without censure and critics claimed he all too often fights his opponent’s fight. If he was to join Ortiz in a slugfest, like early rounds suggested, then he would continue to lose rounds, however, he began the sixth with good technique. He led with the jab, tied up when Ortiz got too close, and punched his way out of the clinch. Berto set up a flush right and Ortiz, for the second time in the fight, was on the canvas. Thirty seconds later, Ortiz was against the ropes and was tagged with another flush shot from Berto yet the ropes may have kept him upright. With just seconds remaining, Ortiz responded in thrilling fashion by knocking down Berto who was guilty of leaving himself open looking for the finish.
Round Seven: The seventh stanza was ugly. In the opening minute both boxers wrestled each other to the deck. Moments later Berto complained about leading with his head and Ortiz was later warned by the referee. With 70 seconds left on the clock the fans at Foxwoods were treated to a gladiatorial toe-to-toe war, exchanging brutal blows and this time both stood up to the damage.
Round Eight: Ortiz made Berto miss with his one-two’s due to the Cali-fighter’s head movement. Berto finally took heed of Morgan’s advice from the corner by landing an uppercut to Ortiz’s chest. Ortiz was warned for punching Berto to the back of the head while the two were in a clinch. Berto found Ortiz’s body with a good left hand. Ortiz’s boxing style was far more tentative than the explosive power that was evident in the first half of the fight.
Round Nine: The ninth stanza showed an almost pedestrian looking Berto. The first minute of the round was firmly Ortiz’s, not because he was landing, but because he was the aggressor. Both boxers were looking to land heavy, punishing blows more so than any other shot. Ortiz was again warned about behind-the-ear punching.
Round Ten: The referee deducted a point from Ortiz due to illegal punching and allowed Berto a fair amount of time to recover. Ortiz was not disheartened by the punishment and fought on the inside where he attacked Berto’s body. Berto’s weak legs were apparent in the final 45 seconds as he was on his knees yet the referee waved it off to not be a knockdown. War ensued in the final seconds.
Round Eleven: Ortiz maintained his role as aggressor, looking to take the fight to Berto and landing shots on Berto’s chin and to the sides of his body. He found success with left hooks, straight lefts and eventually Berto began looking as dazed as he did in the opening two rounds. The champion looked at both his corner and also the clock – an indication that even he knew he was defeated.
Round Twelve: The reactions from each corner was telling. Ortiz’s trainer, Danny Garcia, explained to his fighter that he was well ahead on points while Morgan informed Berto he needed a knockout to win. Berto landed good head shots that forced Ortiz to clinch in order to recover. Berto took a left to the head. The champion tried to take Ortiz out with a looping right hook but Ortiz slipped the shot completely by ducking underneath it.
Before the scorecards had even been announced, Ortiz was celebrating like he had taken the fight to an undefeated champion and forced the belt away from his waist. His aforementioned fashion choices were of a man looking to make a statement and his relentless slugging certainly backed up his colourful clothing. The judges gave the right verdict to Ortiz who not only announced himself as a force at welterweight, but quietened the critics who claim he quits when the going gets rough.