Victor Ortiz, Andre Berto announce their April 30 rematch in L.A.
LOS ANGELES – Waiting for the press conference to commence, Victor Ortiz sat patiently in his designated seat as his April 30 opponent, Andre Berto, made his way to the stage at the Conga Room Wednesday afternoon. The two were about to make their rematch official, but in an unnoticed moment when they first crossed paths, there was an exchange that served as a prelude to how the presser would end.
Without a blink, Ortiz stared at Berto as he shrugged off media reporters in order to get to his seat. Berto had to cross Ortiz’s path in order to get to it, and in that moment, Ortiz put out his hand for a shake, and matched a smile with his glare. Ortiz never got the eye contact he had been seeking, and his welcomed hand was greeted by a limp-wristed handshake from Berto before quickly sitting down.
“I appreciate everybody for coming. I’m glad to be here,” Berto sluggishly said in his opening remarks at the podium. “I was just at camp and jumped on a plane to get out here,” the former welterweight titleholder admitted, perhaps jet-lagged from the flight from Oakland, California, where he trains. “I’m excited about this one,” he continued. “April 30 is going to be a tremendous night. Promise you that. The fight back then, he got me. I was not 100-percent, but he did what he had to do to win. But this time, I’m definitely going in extremely focused. I’m just ready to take everything he took from me that night. This is what he asked for so I want to make sure what he knows what he’s getting himself into.” Ortiz could be heard jawing at Berto at this moment, just before Berto ended with, “This ain’t the same situation, I promise you that.”
The main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card televised on FOX (8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT), if the rematch is anything like their first encounter, it will indeed be a tremendous night. Couple in the fact that the fight takes place at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California – a place where drama in the ring perennially thrives – makes the anticipation for the rematch unrivaled. In 2011, Berto and Ortiz took part in THE RING magazine’s Fight of the Year, and in it, the two traded multiple knockdowns before Ortiz got the unanimous decision victory, and took the WBC welterweight title from Berto in the process.
“Thank you guys for coming. First of all, to take the stage with these guys is more than I can ask for,” greeted Ortiz wince it was his turn to take the podium. “2011, yeah, that was one hell of a year,” Ortiz reflected about the first fight. “Working two jobs, and got a little break for a week, then conquered a championship. The repeat is coming April 30. I expect no less, and he’s (Berto) one hell of a warrior – I’ll give him that. I’m gonna be ready. I don’t need to talk, I’m gonna do my talking in the ring.”
After the short, yet sweet, messages at the mic, they faced-off for the first time, and that’s when the true animosity between the two reared it’s ugly head. Now face to face, Ortiz and Berto whispered verbal jabs before Andre pushed Berto for getting too close. “Why you get this close?” Berto said while being held back by famed manager Sam Watson. “I ain’t with that gay s__t, homie,” squealed Berto.
After the fracas was cleared up, both Ortiz and Berto fielded a few questions from RingTV.com.
“It’s fine,” Ortiz said about the half-hearted handshake and shoving match that just transpired. “I just want to remind him why it is that I was victorious in 2011.”
Ortiz (31-5-2, 24 KOs) hasn’t been able to reach the pinnacle moment of his career after upsetting Berto in 2011. He has only had five fights since in a span that goes back the same amount of years. In fact, the 29 year old from Garden City, Kansas has been on more red carpet movie and TV show premiers then he has ring walks.
“A lot of injuries, man. I broke my jaw, and after I broke my jaw, I broke my wrist,” Ortiz said about what transpired since losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in late 2011 – a fight he got stemming from his defeat of Berto. “I had a total of three years down the drain,” he continued. “It wasn’t like I could do something against my will to fight. The more I watched boxing the more upset it made me. I’m like, these welterweights are not on my level. Not to talk bad, but I say how it is as a boxing fan. Back in the Hagler-Hearns days, back with Sugar Ray Leonard and all them boys, they fought everybody. Everybody fought everybody. It wasn’t no cherry pick stuff. That’s why my record isn’t beautiful, I don’t cherry pick. I’m up for it – you want a war let’s get a war.”
On whether or not he has had any regrets the past few years, Ortiz responded, “Nope. I have no regrets. No sir, don’t live life with regrets. That’s one thing I don’t have.”
There seems to be a pattern for fighters after they experience a fight with Mayweather. More often than not, they never seem to be able to bounce back. Such is the case for Ortiz. As for Berto (30-4, 23 KOs), he’s coming off a loss to him this past September, and when presented with the idea of this sequence Andre responded, “I don’t know how. Floyd is…It was like the weirdest feeling because almost after every fight, I’m sore, I know I’ve been in a fight. After that fight, I went to the club after. Floyd is just a different type of fighter. He doesn’t punch hard, he doesn’t try to clip you – I guess he clipped him (Ortiz).”
Following up, Berto agreed that he got over losing the fight to Mayweather much quicker than he did with the loss to Ortiz. “I’m not gonna be over it until April 30th,” responded when asked if he is over the 2011 loss today. Berto, 32, also agreed that the theme of this fight for him is redemption, and when asked if he’s ever had to seek any atonement in or outside of the ring, he responded, “School, when I failed a test I wanted to come back and try to ace it,” he said laughingly. He continued, “I think everybody faces some kind of redemption when it comes to life in general. You go through a lot of defeats in life that you want to try to correct, move forward and get it done.”
Berto admitted that he doesn’t hate Ortiz, more so he’s “tired of him, his face, and the way he talks.” He also questions if Ortiz really wants to box referring to his TV and film career. As for the half-hearted handshake and shove of Ortiz, Berto responded, “It’s like he wants to shake my hand in one breath, in another breath he wants to try to get in my face. It’s like, I don’t know what he wants from me.”
Also announced for the Saturday night card on FOX, Edwin “La Bomba” Rodrgiuez (28-1, 19 KOs) will face Thomas Williams Jr. (19-1, 13 KOs) in a light heavyweight match-up as the co-feature. Opening the telecast, Mexican featherweights, Fernando Montiel (54-5-2, 39 KOs) and Jorge Lara (27-0-2, 19 KOs), will square off.