Berto Andre HOGAN
Jerry Glick reporting: The setting was The Palm West Restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, an austere eatery that was the venue for a press conference to begin the hype for the WBC Welterweight Title fight between champion Andre’ Berto and Challenger Victor Ortiz on April 16 at The MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
The show will be co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment who represent Berto (East Coast) and Golden Boy who represents Ortiz (West Coast).
“Two guys who can punch,” said DiBella explaining why it’s a fan friendly fight. “Both guys are capable of hurting the other with one punch. This is a risky fight. Both guys have single punch knockout power.”
Ortiz is moving up from the junior welterweight division. That’s 140 to 147, but DiBella points out that it does not indicate who the bigger man is. “Berto is not any bigger than Ortiz. In fact Ortiz is bigger than Berto right now. The most compelling thing is that they are two young fighters who both have been developed by HBO; the majority of their careers have been televised, and they could punch.”
Looking fit and determined, Ortiz, 28-2-2 (22 KOs), claimed that he was ready to beat the defending champion, “I feel perfectly fine,” said a serious looking Ortiz. “I’m confident and ready.”
Ortiz is moving up for the first time and said that he is through with the 140 pound division.
“No concern at all,” said the Oxnard, California resident. “I feel comfortable; I feel strong. I’m not a little guy.”
He claimed that he has made the move up in weight because he had trouble getting fights, “When everyone is afraid to fight you why stick around.”
His mood darkened when he was asked about his disastrous loss to Marcos Maidana back in 2009, “That was a fluke, period.”
He added that he has been roundly criticized over the last two years and that he won’t try to please everyone in the future. He said that the Maidana fight was only one of the rough patches he has endured. “I’m done playing that nice role of pleasing everyone. It gets you nowhere,” said Ortiz.
Berto, 27-0 (21 KOs), said that he was on target to make 147 pounds. “I’m about six pounds away,” said Berto. “Everything has been on point. Training is going well, no injuries yet.”
His preparation includes sparring partners who are similar to Ortiz. Berto had the look of a confident champion.
I’m working with some of the sharpest sparring partners out there,” claimed Berto adding, “They’re southpaws (as is Ortiz). So we will be ready.”
Andre’ feels that he has a speed advantage and better experience. “When the time gets tough,” said Berto, “Everybody knows how I’ll dig down and handle it. We’ll see if he could dig down deep and do the same; but from his track record he doesn’t really hold up.”
I asked why Ortiz at this time and Berto said that Ortiz was the one who stepped up the plate. “We reached out. We tried to do Cotto; we tried to do Pacquiao; we tried to do a lot of different fighters but people think it’s my team but it’s not. We’ve been reaching out to these guys trying to get these deals done but they blatantly just say no. There’s nothing we can do. Victor Ortiz is a very entertaining fight. He’s young, he’s hungry, and he’s going to come and try to knock my head off.”
The HBO show will feature a fight between Amir “King” Khan, 24-1 (17 KOs), WBA Junior Welterweight World Champion defending against Paul “Dudey” McCloskey, 22-0 (12 KOs) from the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, England.
***ORTIZ’ MANAGER ROLANDO ARRELLANO***
When Ortiz’ manager spoke he touched two points from the heart, first he reminded the media of the tragedy in Japan and one other that was more personal.
“Victor Ortiz had to come from nothing,” said the emotional Arrellano, “From the foster care program to become the number one contender.”
After Arrellano mentioned Japan’s plight, promoter DiBella said that he will try to work out a way to send money to help the victims of the earthquake, possibly by selling fight related tee shirts with the proceeds going to help the recovery efforts.
Berto is Haitian and he said that while his parents just came back from Haiti and he has brought family here, he still has family in Haiti who survived the earthquake. He admitted that what is happening in Japan has special meaning for him after the trouble his homeland had.
“As soon as I heard what happened in Japan it sent a chill down my spine.”